How to be God’s Ambassador
How can people make the earth’s reflection of God’s glory more obvious?
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.
The temptation in the Garden of Eden was the first challenge to God’s authority on the good earth. The serpent’s deceptive question was full of distrust: “Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1)
Simple as the question was, it implied Eve shouldn’t trust God. The nourishing abundance of the Garden of Eden proved God’s goodness. Satan introduced doubt of that goodness that led to the fall of mankind. It wasn’t only their disobedience of God’s direct command that led to the fall, however. When Adam and Eve failed to take charge of the serpent, they also weren’t living up to Genesis 1:28, which says:
“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.”
Followers of Christ sometimes call this command the “creation mandate” or the “cultural mandate.” When God invested His image in mankind and told them to control and oversee all creation, their very existence became a message, one that provoked great jealousy in the “crafty” serpent. (Genesis 3:1) This mandate was given before the warning about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Let’s examine how it applies to Adam and Eve and their descendants:
Who needs to obey this command?
Although it was given to both Adam and Eve, “…fill the earth…” is something just two people cannot do. God is addressing them and everyone coming after them as they have children.
What does the command imply?
God, who was their Master, created them in His image and authorized them to master the earth. To do this properly, they would need to do it the way He would have done it.
If it’s true that God’s command about the oversight of creation was to all of the first couple’s descendants, we need to understand what is in-bounds and out-of-bounds. Certainly people have filled the earth. But what about the command to “…subdue it, and have dominion…”?
What would godly dominion look like for my generation?
For our generation, it is the followers of Jesus who must answer that question. Genesis 2:5-20 describes the original creation and some of the interaction between God and mankind that would give them guidance. What do we have? That and the whole rest of the Bible! God’s "Word become flesh" in the person of Christ. (John 1:14) The indwelling Holy Spirit. Even though all people, regardless of their location, language or ethnicity, are descendants of Adam and Eve, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
At times, people have correctly understood God’s call to care for the world.They have brought benefit, beauty and harmony out of it, like Joseph, who administered Egypt, saving the known world from famine. (See Genesis 41:46-57, 47:13-25) Taking care of what God has given us shows people that our creator is a generous, benevolent, and truthful God. Leaders like Joseph create a lasting message to future generations.
At other times, people have used cruel, destructive and wasteful methods, taking advantage of one another, animals and natural resources. In Ezekiel’s Israel (Ezekiel 34:1-10), God called out “shepherds” (spiritual leaders) who took advantage of His people for their own gain. This kind of leadership can distance us, and our descendants, further from God. If the fall separated us from the God whose image we bear, failure to honor Him in our care of His creation further disrupted the reflection of His glory that creation bears. (See Psalm 19:1-3)
In Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we get a look at God’s desire for us. Jesus longs for us to be where He is! (John 17:24) In spite of that, He has left us here as His ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20) Consider that word: an ambassador is a citizen of another country (Hebrews 11:13-16) placed in a country that is not their home in order to promote or represent their home nation. The ideas and practices we promote must reflect God Himself. Two key parts of saving faith are to believe God exists and that He, as a good God, rewards those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) Remember that the serpent interjected doubt at that last part: the trust of God’s goodness! When we promote order, beauty, kindness and patience in the world, it lets us declare Christ. When we bring people into His Kingdom, it is the ultimate fulfillment of creation as a reflection of His glory forever.
Pray this week:
Father, I know you have told us to pray for leaders. May the leaders of my country manage according to your example.
How can you care for the world?
Are there other things you have questions about? Connect with a caring volunteer for help.