Every Good Thing is a little book on a big topic: the material world. Where do we start? Let me begin with some personal background. When I was 12 years old, I began working as a day laborer on an apple farm. Every weekday after school and all day on Saturdays, I went to work on the farm. I was paid minimum wage for carrying out various tasks: harvesting apples, picking strawberries, selling pumpkins, preparing fields for planting, pulling weeds, staffing the farmer’s market, and various other farm-related chores. It was hard work, but good work.
While my career path has taken me out of agriculture and into academia, I am so thankful for those early years of working on the farm. It was in those rural fields that I developed a biblical work ethic and began to ask some of the questions that would help to determine my life’s trajectory.
Early on, for example, I experienced the satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s labor, and I quickly learned about the need (of people and land) for regular rest, too. On the farm I was affected by the revelation and wonder that comes from being in constant contact with the created order, cut off from the hustle and drone of culture. My farm job also exposed me to real poverty for the first time since many of my colaborers were migrant workers who lived communally in relative squalor. In contrast, my work also prompted me to begin asking questions about wealth: To my 12-year-old self, earning $3.35/hour made me feel rich, like I would if I were making $1,000/hour today.
These types of issues began to interest me when I was a boy — and they ought to interest all of us, for they are inescapable facts of the world in which we live and work. Moreover, Scripture addresses all these topics — wealth and poverty, work and rest, creation and stewardship. As I began to walk with God as a young man, I wanted to know what the Bible had to say about issues related to the material realm.
Although some Christians seem to live a compartmentalized life in which the gospel has only spiritual value, I became convinced early in my Christian walk (and am even more so today) that the gospel relates to all areas of life. Indeed, Christianity is a worldview and life-view that is all-encompassing. The gospel applies to every area of human existence — be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Every Good Thing explores some thoughts on this topic.