Blog - Grasping Vocation
Caring for Earth and Its LifeTuesday, March 24, 2015
In this series of blogs, we’re exploring that searching question: Why are we here? As seen in Genesis 1 and 2, our first two core callings are communing with God and creating community. Let’s see how those same pre-sin chapters also unfold our third core calling.
Immediately after saying, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,” God explains why we share his image: "Let them rule . . . over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26). Dallas Willard, in his book, The Allure of Gentleness, writes, "When you go back to Genesis 1, you will see that the story runs directly from "Let us make humankind in our image” to "let them have dominion.”
To our ears, conditioned by sin-perverted practices, "rule” and "dominion” may sound severe. But Gen. 2:15 softens them in the context of attentive guardianship: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, says, "Gardening is the paradigm for work. The man was the representative of the whole human race. And therefore, gardening represents all work.”
Our third core calling, then: caring for earth and its life. The earth is the Lord’s property. He has placed us human beings here as his property managers, his stewards. A run-down house suggests a negligent property manager. A badly maintained earth points to careless human stewardship.
Through your work, you are responsible for managing (ruling over) a tiny but important part of God’s property. Being paid is a benefit of your work but not the point of it. You may work mostly with people or mainly with things. Either way, one of your core callings is to help make the earth livable for the people, animals, and plants God has put here. Tim Keller again: "Work is rearranging the raw material of a particular domain for the flourishing of everyone.”
Are you an IT Manager? Your work in God’s contemporary "garden” may be to oversee electronic networks that allow businesses and government agencies to function. Are you an automobile mechanic? Learn the Mechanic’s Prayer: "Lord, help me always to remember that I hold a life in my hands as I fasten a nut, repair a brake, or adjust the power steering” (Author unknown). Are you a grocery checker? Remember that you are doing work like Jesus’ disciples did in the feeding of the five thousand.
In his book, Work, Lester DeKoster writes: "Work is the form in which we make ourselves useful to others. . . .What matters is that we do our work! We are daily providing the threads which join with innumerable others in making civilized life possible.”