By, Isam Itson III
Genesis 1:28 – And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Embracing God’s blessing for us demands a high view of ourselves expressed in simple and creative service to others.
We might think of this passage as the first motivational seminar. To bless, in this context, means to provide the power for success. This text reveals God’s idea of a successful human life that corresponds to his will for us as his representatives in relationship to all of creation.
God has created us to fill the earth and purposefully take responsibility for the earth and its other living creatures in a way that honors God’s supreme authority over all creation. The word we translate into God in Genesis 1 means the Supreme King, Lord, or God. God has supreme dominion and entrusts the earthly aspect of his dominion to us, the humans, male and female, as personal agents of his supreme authority. We are meant to cultivate the environment and the lives of our fellow creatures in a way that honors God’s supreme sovereignty over everyone and everything.
How do we do this? We cultivate the world around us by imitating the manner in which God expresses his authority. God does not need anything or anyone outside of himself. Yet throughout the narrative of Creation in Genesis chapter 1, we see God acting with consideration for the needs of all his living creatures, including humans. God forms the places we will inhabit and fills them with what we need to survive; he reveals himself to us as the personal and considerate source of power and wisdom, responsible for our life and well being.
In the same way, God has created us to consider the needs of each other, and our fellow living creatures, as we make choices affecting our common environment. In cooperation and harmony with our fellow humans, our lives are meant to honor God as we exercise our responsibility for nurturing and enriching the lives of all people and animals on the planet. The choices we make in light of God’s creative and sustaining activities are meant to flow from our consideration of other people in sharing God’s ongoing work within creation.
This is exhilarating and terrifying. Those of us who don’t think much of ourselves are challenged to see ourselves as co-rulers with God. Those of us who think highly of ourselves are called to submit our personal desires to the expression and consideration of the needs of others, in submission to God. All of us are called and given the ability to share responsibility for one another’s growth in imitation of God’s creative love for us. Together, we are called and given the ability to share in God’s work of caring for the creatures we share the planet with and nurturing the environment in which we all live.
1. What simple choices can I make today that honor God’s love for the people I encounter on a daily basis?
2. How can I practically honor the value of the non-human creatures with whom I share the planet?
3. How can I share in the creation of objects, activities, and spaces that help others cultivate a life that honors God’s sovereignty and love for creation?