Theological Reflections: The Role of the Church in Natural Resources Management

By Rev. Douglas Maundukuse, ZCC Economic Justice Champion –

Mathew 17: KJV- Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

The concept of creation care, invites everyone to reflect on the role of people as stewards of the earth. Genesis 1:26[1], underscores humanity’s unique position as bearers of God’s image and custodians of his creation. This theological foundation highlights people’s responsibility to nurture and to safeguard the natural resources entrusted to them by God.

In Zimbabwe, the biblical principle of being in a covenant with the stones of the field, as mentioned in Job 5:23[2], holds contemporary significance in the context of the country’s abundant mineral resources. The scripture must be understood as a call to recognize and honor the covenant relationship between humanity and the natural resources found in the land. Zimbabwe, known for its rich mineral deposits, including gold, platinum, and diamonds, is called to steward these resources responsibly and ethically. Just as Job was encouraged to be in a league or covenant with the stones of the field, so too are the people of Zimbabwe called to uphold a sacred pact with their mineral wealth, ensuring that it is managed sustainably for the benefit of present and future generations. This is a challenge to the people of Zimbabwe to view their relationship with the land and its resources through the lens of covenantal responsibility and stewardship.

In Matthew 17:27, Jesus instructs Peter to go fishing and find a coin in the fish’s mouth to pay the temple tax for both of them. This passage highlights the importance of fulfilling one’s financial obligations, including paying taxes. The Church, drawing from this biblical teaching, has the mandate to instruct and remind mining companies and individuals in the mining value chain of their moral duty to pay taxes on their mineral proceeds. The Church’s moral authority stems from its role as a spiritual guide and moral compass in society.

The Church has the mandate to advocate for transparency and accountability in financial matters, including tax payments. All individuals have to fulfill their tax obligations ethically and responsibly. Ultimately, by invoking Matthew 17:27 and emphasizing the moral imperative of paying taxes, the Church has to play a vital role in promoting ethical behavior and financial accountability among investors and mining companies involved in natural resource extraction. This advocacy contributes to a more just and equitable distribution of resources, ensuring that the community benefits from the sustainable management of its mineral wealth.

The duty of the Church to advocate for equal opportunities in mining is deeply rooted in the biblical call for justice and equity. In God’s eyes, all people are equal and deserving of fair treatment and access to resources. The Church, as a moral compass in society, has a responsibility to speak out against injustices and advocate for policies that ensure that marginalized communities have equal opportunities in the mining sector. This advocacy is not just about economic fairness but also about upholding the dignity and rights of all individuals, as they are all created in the image of God.

Similarly, the duty of the Church to educate people to take care of the ecosystem stems from the biblical mandate of stewardship. From the creation narrative in Genesis to the Psalms that declare the earth belongs to the Lord, Scripture consistently emphasizes humanity’s role as caretakers of God’s creation. By educating people on the importance of caring for the ecosystem, the Church is fulfilling its duty to uphold responsible stewardship and protect the environment for future generations. This education can empower individuals to make informed choices that prioritize sustainability and conservation, reflecting their reverence for God’s creation.

Furthermore, the duty of the Church to give awareness to people to stay in harmony with natural resources is a reflection of the call to live in harmony with all of God’s creation. When humans are in harmony with nature, they are honoring the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living beings. By promoting this awareness, the Church inspire individuals to live in harmony with nature, fostering a deeper appreciation for God’s creation and a commitment to preserving it for future generations.

In a nutshell, the theological reflection on the role of the Church in natural resource governance highlights the urgent need for responsible stewardship of God’s creation, particularly in regions like Mutasa District in Zimbabwe where challenges persist despite the abundance of gold deposits. The call for the Church to reclaim its position as a trusted convener is crucial in engaging all stakeholders within the mining industry to ensure that the minerals found in the region are translated into real value for the Mutasa community. By upholding the principles of covenantal responsibility and stewardship, the Church can play a vital role in advocating for ethical and sustainable practices in natural resource governance, ultimately promoting justice, equity, and a society where everyone enjoys holistic salvation.

[1] 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

[2]For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you.”

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