When those of us in agriculture get together to talk about how to share the message of what we do with those who do not know or understand, we start out with good intentions. We start with how we can educate on how customer’s food is raised.
Yes, animals have to die for you to eat meat. Yes, fertilizers need to be used to grow an abundant, sustainable and healthy food. Yes, farmers no longer use oxen and horses to plow, plant and harvest their food – they use modern equipment: SHOCKER! (I’m sorry, I may be dripping with a little bit of sarcasm on this one.)
Eventually, I’ve noticed that we rationalize away how deep into clear & frank education we want to go. I mean, how many parents want their kids to see a chicken killed for their dinner table? But, on that same note, we all want our youth to know the truth about everything in life right? So…aren’t we contradicting ourselves by not showing them a chicken being killed for that lovely family dinner?
All the same, we go down a road to start romanticizing agriculture, having the thought process that “Maybe, just maybe, if they see how special what we do is, they too will understand that what we do is in their best interest.” But, the more we go down that road, the more we communicate to unknowing consumers how romantic agriculture is, without showing them the dirt and the dust underneath our fingernails. Don’t get me wrong; as person involved in agriculture myself, I LOVE being in the industry and love the romantic part of it. But I know the realities of how dangerous, unpredictable and dirty it can be. And somehow I have no problem putting food in my mouth still (a little more sarcasm here).
I’m not saying I have a silver bullet answer to the problem, but I would like to make a parallel (if you’re not confused enough already).
As Christians, we often times try to romanticize our faith in order to entice others to believe in Jesus as their Savior. But, in reality, there is nothing romantic about being a Christian. Yes, I believe in a God who has saved my soul and cares for me as His own child. But, I also recognize that as a Christian, my life hasn’t become easier, I have by no means become financially richer (although I could use a few extra dollars for that new sleep bag I’d like to buy!), I am not feeling super loved every moment of every day and all of life’s problems around me have not cleared up.
The reality? Life is harder. I choose to live differently, in a way the Lord calls me to in His Word. (As if it’s not hard enough trying to treat my enemies in a loving way, I have to put my selfishness aside and be a servant to the Lord.)
And we need to be honest with those accepting Jesus into their lives. The Lord will comfort you and help you through life’s hardships, even better, He will invite you into heaven to be with Him when your earthly body dies. But, that means seeking to follow Jesus with a true, honest heart, no matter what may come your way. Sounds easy right? Uh huh. It’s not. But, there is hope, mercy and forgiveness.
Jesus words: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the world that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” – John 15:18-20
As a reminder, the next time you try to romanticize Christianity to those who have yet to follow Christ, take a moment and think about how you might be crippling them. Similarly, those of us in agriculture should be reminded that we should avoid crippling consumers and their view of our industry by showing how agriculture can be clean and fun at times, but it’s really dirty, hard work and we live in uncertainty about knowing if we will be able to have income to provide for our families the next year. By accepting Jesus Christ though, we can have certainty about life after death.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” – John 5:24
So, there’s my “food for thought” of the day. Take it or leave it. But remember, the more we romanticize anything in life, the more skewed of a view we give those who are unknowing in that area, which affects their perception…whether correct or not. So why not give them the truth? What are we so afraid of, that they won’t like it? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time. If they seek to destroy our faith or agriculture because of their perception, then they ultimately hurt themselves in the end. I mean…more expensive food…no relationship with Jesus?
Thankfully, if we don’t do our jobs correctly, the Lord will show everyone His truth.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” –Hebrews 4:12-13