It’s ironic, isn’t it?
We often boast that our God made the entire universe. Every single square inch of it is His. And yet, we are also the ones who are least likely to care about it. We mock hybrid-driving, Whole Foods-shopping, recycling vegans as if they’re inferior humans.
Hold On to This for Me
Growing up, I used to cherish when my dad would give me something from his childhood or let me borrow something of His. No matter what it was, I would take extra care of it simply because it was my father’s, not mine. I was blown away that he would let me, a young kid, hold on to and take care something that was his.
In the early chapters of Genesis, we see God do a very similar thing with humanity, don’t we. God intricately crafts the entire universe and all of its ingredients from scratch. From matter to the mountains, atoms to apples, God makes everything. And we see that it is good.
Then, we see God form humanity to be like Him in and to all of the earth (created in His image). In other words, God desires for humans to display His character and creativity in all of the earth. He gives humanity a few instructions about how to do this:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.”
Genesis 1:28, CEB
First, He tells them to make a lot of babies.
Check! We’re currently at about 7.1 billion people. Job well-done if I do say so myself.
Second, God instructs them to subdue the earth and have dominion over every living thing.
Often, we view these two words, take charge (some translations say have dominion), from the wrong perspective. These words are meant to communicate a language of nurture like govern, take care of, help, prosper, etc.
Instead, we view these words from a worldview that has been contaminated by an endless history of corrupt leaders. We view governing not so much as nurturing but as controlling, domineering, and at times abusive.
This is not the ruling over the earth that God intended for humanity. Rather, God intended for us to govern as He does over us and His kingdom: in a loving, sacrificial manner.
Like Father, Like Son
When my dad gave me things from his childhood to hold on to for him, he expected me to take care of them. If I would’ve taken them from him and broke or damaged them, my dad would’ve been heartbroken. Him allowing me to take care of something that belonged to him was a shadow of his love for me. In response, I would take care of them with every power I had because of my love and appreciation for him.
Similarly, the intent of the dominion that God has given to us was not to trash the earth like an irresponsible teenager would trash their parents’ house when they’re out of town for the weekend. On the contrary, this dominion was granted to us with the intention that we would preserve and nurture the earth in manner that would benefit all of creation now and for future generations.
Taking charge or having dominion over the earth means being responsible stewards of all God’s creation, loving sacrificially like God has loved us through Jesus.