Our Original Calling

Genesis 1:26-28 says,

 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, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,

 in the image of God he created them;
 male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, in the act of creation, God tamed what was previously dark and desolate.  God pushed back the darkness, and set limits on the chaos.  Then, as the crowning act of creation, God made humans, in his own image and likeness.  And, as such, assigned us a particular calling – to rule over creation.  But, what does that mean?

Some translations of Genesis use the word dominion, instead of rule.  Dominion is similar to the word domination, but also quote different.  Both exert power and authority.  But, domination is potentially – and usually – destructive.  Domination centers all power and authority on one side of the equation, leaving the other side weak, powerless, and vulnerable – possibly victimized.  Undeniably, sinful humanity has practiced far too much domination – polluting the earth, subjugating and exploiting the weak, abusing the innocent, neglecting the needy.

Whereas, dominion is about stewardship, responsibility, and care.  Dominion is about exercising power and authority for the common good.

A good king practices dominion by caring for the health and wholeness of all that is within his kingdom.  A despot dominates his kingdom, exploiting it for his own personal gain.

We – who are created in God’s image and likeness –  are called to exercise God-like dominion over creation – caring for it, tending it, stewarding it for optimum health and wholeness by exercising whatever power and authority we have for good.  We, as God’s image bearers, have the God-given call, responsibility and privilege to maintain order, to set limits to chaos, to tend and nurture, to steward resources wisely, and to mend and heal whatever is broken.

Metaphorically speaking, I think that means our job is to cultivate what is wild, to prune what we have planted for great fruitfulness, to heal the diseased, to gather-up the rock and rubble to build, to pull weeds, to cut-back the vines, and to plant and nurture for new and greater abundance.

Just as when God created the heavens and the earth, there is still much that is dark and desolate.  Just as God pushed back the dark, speaking an abundant creation into being, God created and called humans to continue the process.  We undeniably live in a wild, wild world that often appears to be more broken than whole, more chaotic than orderly, more hell-bent than heavenly.  But, all that is broken still contains “the dust of Eden” within it (borrowing a great phrase from Makoto Fujimura).

All that is wild can be lovingly cultivated for abundant fruitfulness.

All that is broken can be rebuilt.

So God created mankind in his own image,

 in the image of God he created them;
 male and female he created them…. and gave them rule…

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