What is the first command given by God to human beings? We can find this in Genesis 1:28 where God commands humans upon being created:
1. Be fruitful
2. Increase in number
3. Fill the earth
4. Subdue it
5. Rule over all other creatures
These commands can be encapsuled into two general commands:
1. Be fruitful
2. Be in control
The role of humans is repeated in Psalm 8:4-8. Humans are meant to be stewards — lord-servants — of creation, rulers and managers of the whole created order as representative of God, the image of God. The invisible God is visible in His physical creation through His image. God rules over the earth through Man.
Fall of Man brought mismanagement
When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they did not lose their being as the image of God, that is, the mandate to be fruitful and rule; but they do so now under Satan, and thus the whole of creation was cursed. They were called to be fruitful, but they are now unable to be because they now have a corrupt sense of what being fruitful means. They are called to be in control, but they are now unable to control because they have a corrupt sense of what being in control means.
And as they were, so are we.
We are called to be fruitful, but we are unable to be because they now have a corrupt sense of what being fruitful means. We usually think of fruitfulness in terms of numbers: How much money we have, how many people have we shared the Gospel with, how many friends we have on FB, how many church members we have, how many gadgets we have, how many…, how much…. Thus we think we are being fruitful, but we produce no fruit in the things that really matter: good relationships with others, an unblemished name, changing of lives, a preserved ecosystem, justice, mercy, the things that God values.
We are called to be in control, we are unable to control because we have a corrupt sense of what being in control means. We usually think that being in control means the freedom to do what we want, when we want, how we want. So we indulge. And then we find that what we want has enslaved us to the point that we can no longer do anything other than “what we want,” as any addict will attest.
In addition, we often sacrifice one for the other. In our desire for more fruit, we sacrifice control, like the student who spends long hours studying to graduate with honors only to later find that she is getting sick from over-fatigue, alienated from her friends and family because of her withdrawn and irritable disposition, and depressed because of lack of sleep. Or the control freak team leader who wants to do everything himself, only to find himself hated by his team and their project in ruins.
Redemption of Man and Man’s original purpose
The good news is God the Son came and became the Son of Man that He might reclaim for the rest of humanity the purpose that was lost at the Fall. When Christ was crucified, our greed for false fruit and our lust for control was crucified with Him. And when He rose from the dead, these stayed dead. So if we choose to follow Him, we are free to be fruitful and rule over creation in His name, as we are designed to be. For if we died with Him, we will rise with Him and reign with Him who is the Son of Man (2 Timothy 2:11-12).
Christian Stewardship: fulfilling the first command by obeying the first commandment
But the full redemption of creation is still yet to come, and perverted fruitfulness and dominion still plague this world. How then can we be good stewards of everything that God has given us? First, we have to know Whose stewards we are. We have to acknowledge that it was God who gave us authority over everything, but our management has to be according to His will and to fulfill His purpose: the redemption of all creation. But to manage and bear fruit according to His will, we must know what His will is. And to know what His will is, we have to know who He is and for what His heart beats. And the only way to know this is to love Him. Thus the first greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and have no other.
But how does loving God make us better stewards? One of God’s favorite images for His desired relationship with His people is that of a groom with his bride. Anyone who has loved can tell you that it is a pleasure and a privilege to seek knowing what would make the beloved happy, and do those things, just to see that happiness. In the same way, loving God creates in us a desire to make Him happy, to do things His way, to be more like Him. Our view of time, money, resources, and people will shift closer to how He views them. Our sense of fruitfulness will conform to His purposes, and we will see our authority over creation as a trust that He has given to us.
But how can we love Him? If we are honest, we are like Theresa of Avila who prayed, “I don’t love You. I don’t even want to love You. But I want to want to love You.” If we want to want to love God, we have to acknowledge that we can’t do it. But if we really want to, God Himself provides the way: “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) We are to receive His love, feel His love and let it overwhelm us. Look to the Cross and feel the love that would and did give all. Only then are we able to know Him, love Him, love others and this world as He does, and thus be the stewards that He intended us to be. Only then can it be said that we are made in the image of God.
Note: This message was given at the 6th College Summer Break Camp held by Passionate Community for Christ, Inc. (PCCI) last April, 2011 at Ifugao academy, Kiangan, Ifugao Province. I got some of the insights from Dr. Melba Maggay's talk on "Christian Writers as Channels of Social Transformation." during the Christian Writers' Fellowship last Feb. 25, 2011.