Even in my 6th decade of life, a full 10 years after my father’s voice was stilled by death, I feel the weight of his words that laid a sense of family, legacy, and responsibility on me from my earliest years. He instilled the truth in me that life is a sacred trust. He taught me that I am connected to ancestors past and generations future therefore, every choice, each act, should be considered the light of how it uses the investment of those who went before and how it prepares for those coming after for life.
Our Heavenly Father teaches us of the sacred trust of life, too. From the opening page of the revelation of Holy Scripture, we learn that He made us, not just to gather a few crumbs to eat, not just to propagate our DNA in an instinctive drive for survival, but rather to live for Him, which is a noble purpose! “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27, NIV) What is He saying?
Some take that paragraph and turn it into a reason to exploit the earth and all living things. “After all,” they say, “God put us at the top of the pile, didn’t He?” It is true that humanity is distinct from the rest of Creation. In the story that the Spirit tells in Genesis, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7, NIV) He made us eternal, like He is! Our dusty bodies are decaying and eventually will return to the elements, but that ‘breath of life’ that gives us ‘soul’ lives on. However, that distinction of being, and that offer to ‘rule,’ does not give us unrestricted rights to selfishly use up our earth’s resources. Why? Because our life and place in His Creation order is a sacred trust!
Rachel Held Evans is eloquent about this. “But to be “created in the image of God” carries significant leadership implications as well. In the ancient Near Eastern world, kings were considered divine image-bearers, appointed representatives of God on earth. Kings would often place images of themselves, usually statues, in distant parts of their kingdoms to remind their subjects of their sovereignty over the land. So for man and woman to be God’s image-bearers in this context, means that God has entrusted both men and women with ruling the world on God’s behalf. “Let us make humankind in our image,” God says, “according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish,…birds, cattle,…all the wild animals…every creeping thing.”
We ‘rule’ in the sense that we bring His kingdom of Light and Love to the places where we work, play, serve, and worship. We push back the darkness of hatred. We work to build relationships. Our lives reveal Eternity to those who live just to serve their appetites. Yes, we are ‘more than conquerors’ through Christ, bearers of the image of our Creator.
Think about that deeply this morning. You might be tempted to say, “Oh, Pastor Jerry, that’s just philosophy that does not really concern me.” Ah, but it does. All of Scripture is given for our instruction, to make us wise, to point us to the best life. These words in the opening book of the Bible are more than a simple story and certainly beyond mere myth. They are there to shape our understanding and identity, so that we will live for His glory and enjoy the richest kind of life possible.
Live this day, make each choice, as the image-bearer of your Heavenly Father. Reflect His Presence into the world in which you live. Live in the sacred trust.
Here is a word from the Word. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” (Philippians 2:12-16, NIV)
Over all the earth You reign on high
Every mountain stream every sunset sky
But my one request Lord my only aim
Is that You’d reign in me again
Lord reign in me reign in Your pow’r
Over all my dreams in my darkest hour
You are the Lord of all I am
So won’t You reign in me again
Over every thought over every word
May my life reflect the beauty of my Lord
‘Cause You mean more to me
Than any earthly thing
So won’t You reign in me again
Brenton Brown © 1998 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire) (Vineyard Music UK)
CCLI License # 810055