Summary: There is the question of stewardship: Are we really stewards? Where does that concept come from? It comes from this text.
Genesis 1:26-31 The Stewardship Mandate
6/10/07 D. Marion Clark
A man and a woman stand on the deck of a yacht. The sun is setting. Dinner is being prepared. She is discovering what he already knows – that they are soul mates. She says to him,
“You’ve never felt how small you were when looking at the ocean.”
He laughed. “Never. Nor looking at the planets. Nor at mountain peaks. Nor at the Grand Canyon. Why should I? When I look at the ocean, I feel the greatness of man. I think of man’s magnificent capacity that created this ship to conquer all that senseless space. When I look at mountain peaks, I think of tunnels and dynamite. When I look at the planets, I think of airplanes.”
“Yes [she replies]. And that particular sense of sacred rapture men say they experience in contemplating nature – I’ve never received it from nature, only from…” She stopped.
“Buildings,” she whispered. “Skyscrapers.”
This is moving stuff to be sure. Gail Wynand proposes to Dominque Francon just a few minutes later in Ayn Rand's book, The Fountainhead. The author, however, was not writing a romance, but rather a novel of philosophy. One aspect of that philosophy as expressed here is the greatness of man seen through his ability to do what our biblical text says – "subdue [the earth]." There is one particular difference. Rand's philosophy has no place for God.
Rand was very concerned with what a person did with his ability. What she had little patience with is what we will patiently explore through the summer – the concept of stewardship. What does it mean for us to have been given great ability and resources by our Maker? What do we owe him, and what is our responsibility to our fellow creatures and the rest of his creation?
We will explore the answers mostly through examining how others practiced stewardship: Cain and Abel, Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Joseph, and others. But there is the question of stewardship itself: Are we really stewards? Where does that concept come from? Well, it comes from the text we will study tonight.
The stewardship mandate is founded on the teaching of the first chapter of Genesis. God created the world. God created us – man. God set us over his world.
1. God created the world. Whatever viewpoint we may bring to how creation came to be, the one undisputable teaching of Genesis 1 is that God is the Creator. And thus creation is his possession. As Moses tells his people, "Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it" (Deuteronomy 10:14).
God created with purpose. All that is created has been made to glorify him. "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:36). He has made the heavens and the earth that he might enjoy his creation: "May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works" (Psalm 104:31).
2. God created the world, and God created man. As much as he delights in his creation; as much as his creation depicts the attributes of God (cf Romans 1:20) and glorify him, there is something special about man. For man alone was created in the image of God.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
For all other created things – whether inanimate or living – God says, "Let [it happen]." For man alone does he switch to "Let us make." Chapter 2 will present how man – both male and female – is created. He comes from the earth, but the very breath of God is blown into him.
But of particular significance is the phrase "image of God." Dr. Boice liked to say that anything Scripture teaches is important. If it is repeated, it is very important. If it is said the third time, then we had better pay attention! Three times the Scripture says that man was made in the image of God. Do you get that? Do you get how important man is? Indeed, have you noticed that the rest of Scripture is taken up with man and God's dealings with man? He is set apart from creation because he alone is made in God's image.
This naturally leads to the question of what it means to be made in God's image. Some say it has to do with having a personality – that is, wrapped up in having a conscious understanding of being a uniquely created individual. Some point to man's ability to think creatively or to think about the future or to use reason. G. K. Chesterton said that art is the signature of man, pointing to that unique ability to represent what he experiences. There is the dimension of having a soul that relates to the Spirit of God. Some believe its fundamental element is that relationship with God and which is then expressed in holiness. It is that relationship and holiness that is being recovered as new creatures in Christ (cf Ephesians 4:23-24; Colossians 3:10).