God’s original plan was to build a beautiful garden and to put mankind in it. We were to control it, manage it, expand it, and multiply ourselves throughout the earth utilizing his bounty – all in perfect harmony with our God.
“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.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:26-30)
Adam was the first one who was entrusted with stewardship – in the Garden of Eden, which is a picture of God’s original design of man’s stewardship. Man was to take care of everything for him and enjoy the fruitfulness of what has been freely given him only with the condition not to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet this easy yoke, Adam and Eve failed to carry.
Because of this, they and all mankind were forced to toil in difficult work. (Gen 3:17-19) This world that God had given Man to steward, they handed over to Satan. (Rom 1:21-23 & 5:12-17) And thus all mankind was forced to serve this enemy through his flesh and varied perverse desires. (Gal 3:22-25 & 4:8-11, & Eph 2:1-10) Then came Jesus to break this curse.
“Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:24-30)
He came to usher in the Kingdom of God that was fulfilled upon His death on the cross for all of man’s sin. Because He was able to live His life in perfect worship of God as originally intended, He broke the hold of Satan on this world and took back the keys (the right) of stewardship over both the souls of those who follow Him and the spheres of their lives even in this world. The mustard seed of His death became life everlasting in His disciples at the following Shavuot (Pentecost) 50 days later. Since that time the Kingdom of God has been expanding and is the way in which God is reconciling the world back to Himself, and He will create a new heaven and a new earth and give to us again as shown in the beginning when He conferred to man the Garden of Eden.
Paul says it like this,
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor 15:20-28 [NIV])
Through Christ, we can have the same relationship with God that Adam at first enjoyed, just as Christ Himself did. Taking care of the things that the Lord gives us to manage and enjoying the wonder of living life with the Creator of it all! But unlike Adam, we do this in the midst of a battlefield and so it is a much greater challenge.
But this stewardship calling first prescribed to Adam is what Jesus came back to usher in when He proclaimed the Kingdom of God. It is truly the life that we were built for.
What do you think? How might you alter your stewardship for the good of us all? Answer in a comment. And tell someone to join the conversation.