Missional Mandate: Shepherding the Creation

In the beginning of the Theodrama, God created humanity as God’s image to partner with God in the filling, co-creating, and shepherding of the creation.  When God chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations, God invested this same identity and vocation in them as they were tasked with filling the land God had given them, creating a just and compassionate society as a light to the nations, and caring for the land God had given them. Now, God has renewed Israel through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and called this new Jesus’ community to fill the earth with the glory of God, create just and compassionate communities as lights among the nations, and care for the earth. 

The first vocation is to fill the earth, and disciples of Jesus fill the earth by making disciples.

The second vocation is to subdue the earth by creating order out of chaos, and disciples of Jesus embrace this vocation by subverting and opposing the principalities and powers that presently seek to rule the creation.

The third vocation is, according to Genesis 1:28, is to rule or shepherd the creation, which God loves and will one day liberate from its bondage to decay.

When I described the human vocation earlier in the Theodrama, I noted that ruling the earth was not a function of cruel tyranny but of compassionate shepherding. We rule the earth like shepherds who care for flocks. This is our human vocation, and it is also the vocation of disciples of Jesus because they serve the Lord of creation, Jesus the Messiah.

Our task as human beings has not changed; we are still blessed by God to shepherd the creation. And renewed Israel, the kingdom of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, takes up this task in the midst of environmental chaos and destruction. 

When the Word of God became flesh, God affirmed the goodness of creation. God became part of the creation through the virgin birth. As Jesus ministered within Israel, he healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and raised the dead, and, in this way, Jesus affirmed God’s intent to heal the creation itself. When Jesus died, God raised him from the dead and gave him an immortal material body as the firstborn of the new creation, the new heaven and new earth.

Enthroned alongside God, Jesus—along with the one seated on the throne—received the praise of “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them” (Revelation 5:13). All creation praises God and Jesus, and this creation exists by their will.

And our vocation, as disciples of Jesus, is to partner with God in caring for the creation. We protect the air and water of the earth, preserve space for the animals, and care rather than destroy the environment.

We reign with Christ over the cosmos. We are co-rulers, and our rule is a benevolent one rather than a destructive one. In fact, when God finally redeems the creation and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God’s Messiah, God will, as Revelation 11:18 says, destroy “those who destroy the earth.”

As co-regents with Jesus the Messiah, we share responsibility for the earth. It is both our human and kingdom vocation. As a result, let us act responsibly towards the environment, and, at the very least, plant a tree, a garden, or care for the animals.

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