Everything in this world emerged from the simple combination of the human being created in God’s image, and the Garden, which was created for humanity, and humanity for it. Those ingredients are the foundation for all that exists in God’s creation: a man, a woman and a garden. All of our advanced technology, our science, our music and literature, our civilization and global economy—everything grew out of the formula of man, woman and the natural world. Sometimes we make things too complicated. God says to Adam and Eve, “You love me and I love you. Cherish each other. Tend the garden.”
After the redemption of all things in Christ, God still says to us, “I love you and you love me. Love one another. Care for my creation.” Is there anything in all of the gospel that is not included in this simple statement? Evangelism and world missions are here. Caring for the poor and working for justice are here. The entirety of our Biblical ethics are here. Stewardship of our entire lives is here.
As steward leaders we have a mandate to have dominion, rule over and subdue this creation according to God’s vision for a redeemed world. For a people who bear God’s image, these words must be defined by the God who has created and redeemed this world and who calls us to be caretakers of it. We are called to love what God loves, and that includes his creation. This does not amount to a deification of creation and more than the command to love our neighbor requires idolatry. Nor does it mean that if we love God’s creation too much, we will divert our attention away from more “important” work like evangelism and supporting pro-life and pro-family issues. What could be more pro-life than caring for the very creation that supports all of life? What could be more pro-family than helping mothers and fathers be stewards of their time and resources, and passing those lessons and values on to their children? What could be more supportive of our evangelism throughout the world than connecting billions of people who make their living from the earth to the God who created the earth, bearing witness to the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ by our care for the world that was created by him and for him (Colossians 1:16)?
In our present day, caring for God’s creation may be the ultimate expression of our freedom in Christ. It will require the steward leader to cultivate a heart that hears only the univocal call of Christ to an uncompromising, one-kingdom life. It is a heart that will not be dissuaded by the cacophony of voices screaming to us the gospel of wealth, the benefits of unchecked consumerism and a justification for a lifestyle of increasing consumption. Nor will the steward leader be persuaded by the misguided voices from our own ranks that can only see a world that is passing away instead of a creation that “itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
How will you bear witness today to your vocation as a caretaker of God’s good creation? It will require the daily discipline of looking at all God created and reminding ourselves, ‘It is not mine, Lord. It is yours. All of it!“