Genesis 1:26–31 26
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “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.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The first thing we see here is that man is created in God’s image. Although Scripture never specifically identifies what the image of God is (scholars have posited everything from our physical appearance, to our reason or our moral responsibility) what the text does tell is that the image carries two important implications. First it carries an implication for our nature. This we covered in our Image of God series as that which gives humans dignity. Second, and more relevant to this series, it carries the implication of our responsibility or what we are to do. It has a functional implication as well. The line immediately following God’s declaration to make humans in his image is, “And let them have dominion…” It is therefore the responsibility of humans to rule the creation as God’s image bearers.
In verse 28 we have what is commonly known as the creation mandate or the cultural mandate. This mandate is the result of humans bearing God’s image. This mandate consists of three components:
- God’s blessing,
- the command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,
- the command to subdue creation and have dominion over it.
As many scholars have noted, these three components can be described as culture-making. Tim Keller defines culture making for a Christian as “taking the raw material God made and rearranging it for human flourishing as God defines it.” Another definition comes from Christian cultural critic Ken Myers. He defines culture as simply “what we make of the world.” In agriculture this meaning is obvious. In music the musician takes the raw material of sound and putts it together in a way that expresses beauty and meaning. Stories take the raw material of human interactions and organize them in a fashion that expresses important meaning. Construction is crafting the raw materials of this world into something useful. Everything from art to business to legal arguments to medicinal work, take raw materials produced in creation and makes something beautiful, good, true real and important out of them. This fulfills the creation mandate. This is worship in the garden as this is the command God gave the first humans. and what we will see throughout this study is that God always tells humans how to worship him.
Then, to fulfill the creation mandate Christians need to participate in the process of culture-making in all of its forms. This participation and enjoyment of culture-making satisfies the purpose for which God created us.
Over the next couple of days we will explore these 3 components further.