Nothing at all existed until God “founded it on the seas and established it on the waters” (Ps 24:2). The Creator-King exercises benevolent ownership over his subjects, giving generously of himself and of his bounty (cf. Ps 65:9–13). As such, he deserves what to the psalmist is the ultimate accolade: King of glory.
Evangelical theologian R. Scott Rodin concedes that all of creation glorifies God in a certain sense but stresses the particular obligation of human beings, created in God’s own image, to do so consciously and purposefully:
While it cannot be said that the animals were created in the image of God in the same way as humans were, it must be said that all creation bears his image in the sense that its interdependence and its robust vitality all glorify God as the Creator of all things. Therefore, there is obligation to glorify God in our relation to and responsibility for his creation.
In the chapter “A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship,” the authors of Acton Institute’s Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition deal in depth with the issues of God’s sovereign ownership and of humanity’s call to environmental stewardship.
God, the Creator of all things, rules over all and deserves our worship and adoration (Ps 103:19–22) … Fundamental to a properly Christian environmental ethic … are the Creator/creature distinction and the doctrine of humankind’s creation in the image of God. Some environmentalists, especially those of the “Deep Ecology” movement, divinize the earth and insist on “biological egalitarianism,” the equal value and rights of all life forms, in the mistaken notion that this will raise human respect for the earth. Instead, this philosophy negates the biblical affirmation of the human person’s unique role as steward and eliminates the very rationale for human care for creation …
Our stewardship under God implies that we are morally accountable to him for treating creation in a manner that best serves the objectives of the kingdom of God …
As Francis Bacon put it in Novum Organum Scientiarum (New Method of Science), “Man by the Fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over creation. Both of these losses, however, can even in this life be in some parts repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and sciences.” Sin, then, makes it difficult for humans to exercise godly stewardship, but the work of Christ in, on, and through his people and the creation makes it possible nonetheless.
Think About It
Why do you think God created humans to have dominion and stewardship of the earth? Why have a hierarchy? Why not have all life be created equal?
In what ways does this role of humans as stewards make human choices so important?
Can the effects of the fall be repaired? In what ways? How much?
Act on It
With other believers—a small group or accountability partner—determine how your stewardship of the earth is affecting your home and community. Brainstorm ways in which you can make better choices to reflect your role as steward.