Missional Mandate: Fill the Earth, Subdue the Powers, and Shepherd the Creation

Texts: Acts 6:7; 4:23-31; 12:24; Revelation 5:9-13

Days 65-67 in Around the Bible in Eighty Days.

When God created the cosmos, God invested in humanity a particular vocation:  fill the earth, subdue the chaos, and shepherd (rule) the creation (Genesis 1:28). As participants in the new creation, the people of God extend this human vocation into the life of the kingdom of God as part of the new creation.

The goal is to fill the earth. Ultimately, this is not biological but filling the earth with the glory of God. The goal is for Jesus the Messiah to “fill all things” (Eph. 4:10). Participants in the new creation, fill the earth by continuing in the basic human vocation of living to the glory of God but also by making disciples as the church flourishes. Just as God intended both humanity and Israel to be fruitful and multiply, so God intends to fill the earth through the growth and multiplication of disciples (the verbs of Gen. 1:28 in the Greek translation are the same as in Acts 12:224, for example).

One aspect of filling the earth with God’s glory is subduing the chaos and/or the powers that oppose God’s reign in the world. Just as the part of the original human vocation was to overcome the chaos in the world for the sake of human flourishing, so part of the vocation within the new creation is to subvert the reign of the powers. This subversion includes naming the idolatries, liberating the oppressed, and living in missional communities that bear witness to the new creation. The early church, as in Acts 4, boldly proclaimed the message of the Lordship of Jesus that identified the powers and their evil.

Shepherding the earth was also part of the original human vocation and as we still live in a good creation and the human vocation is still our task in the present creation, new creation disciples also care for the earth. Further, the creation will participate in new creation, and even now the creation participates in the praise of God and the Lamb who is worthy. Disciples of Jesus are priests within the creation, for the sake of creation, and groaning for the liberation of creation.

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