Human Vocation: Rule the Earth

As the image of God, we represent God in the world, and therefore we are called to partner with God in what God is doing in the creation. Our identity shapes our vocation.

We are called to multiply and fill the earth with the glory of God, and we are also called to continue the divine work of creation by ordering the remaining chaos within the creation. And, thirdly, we are invited to share God’s dominion over the creation, that is, to rule the earth. This is humanity’s royal vocation.

Too often we hear “dominion” in tyrannical, oppressive, militaristic, or manipulative ways, but this is not how God rules. As images of God, we rule in a way that mirrors God’s own rule.

For example, Israel’s royalty, though they did not always effectively do so, represented God to the nation. God wanted them to rule with justice and mercy. Psalm 72 reminds Israel what this “dominion” means. It is the humble exercise of power in the service of mercy for the sake of others. Their rule was supposed to be more like how a shepherd rather than like a dictator. Far from exploitation and abuse, God’s imagers rule as servants who give life and empower life. They benevolently care for the creation rather than exploit it.

This gains greater clarity when we recognize we are co-rulers with God. God shares God’s own dominion with us. We are co-workers, junior partners, in God’s enterprise.

Our mission is to develop the full potential of creation as we lovingly care for it and gratefully enjoy it. We pursue familial, social, and communal peace as we embody the justice and mercy of God within creation.

People are called into multiple kinds of work or different careers. As co-rulers with God, we choose particular careers. We choose these careers as ways to love God, serve our neighbors, and shepherd the earth. Through these careers, we participate in the mission of God.

Medical professionals partner with God in healing the sick. Teachers partner with God through imparting knowledge and wisdom. Debt collectors partner with God as they mediate justice for creditors and mercy for debtors. Sanitation workers serve the earth and the human community through its care for a clean earth. Professionals in the legal community partner with God as they pursue justice. Environmental biologists partner with God as they preserve and care for the creation.

Partnering with God toward the fulfillment of the mission of God is ministry in the kingdom of God as God reigns over the creation. We share God’s rule, and we exercise dominion or power within the creation. We use this power to serve rather than dominate. Nurses, teachers, counselors, biologists, sanitation workers, and, yes, even lawyers co-rule with God. Through our careers, we are ministers and royal priests in the kingdom of God, which is  God’s creation. 

We are the image of God, and as imagers we partner with God in filling the earth with the glory of the Lord, ordering the remaining chaos within the creation for the sake of life, and shepherding the earth so that life might flourish.

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