Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over all the cattle, over all the earth…”
A cursory reading of today’s USA Today website revealed the following news headlines:
United States military veterans were denied immediate medical attention in an Arizona veteran’s hospital, resulting in at least seven known deaths.
Military insurgents in Iraq continue their violence against the government, increasing the likelihood of a full civil war.
Teen is held in custody following the death of his own grandmother…in a nudist community.
At least 10 people were shot and two killed in Miami.
A bitter political division continues in Washington, DC.
These daily headlines are typical of what one might read on any particular day. The question is, Why? Why is the condition of our world so deplorable? Why all the problems and negativity?
According to Donald MacKay, in his book Human Science and Human Dignity, man was created for so much more:
“In these familiar phrases [the verse mentioned above] the Book of Genesis spells out the mysterious dignity of what it means to be human. Encamped in a complex and dangerous world whose every feature, like himself, owes its being to the say-so of his Creator, man is singled out as one who has an explicit task. He is to ‘have dominion’. He alone, it would seem, among his fellow creatures. will be held accountable for the management-or mismanagement- of the resources at his disposal. For the biblical writers the world is not merely something to be enjoyed or admired-though it is both-but something to be explored and developed by man in a spirit of thankful and responsible stewardship, for the benefit of his fellows and the glory of God. With all limitations, he has enough likeness to his Creator to be called upon to accept and pursue his Creator’s priorities. This-no less-is his destiny and dignity.”
MacKay argued that man is responsible to manage this world (have dominion) and will be held accountable to God for the results. The question to be asked then is “How is man doing?”
Based upon the evidence of daily news headlines, not very well. While mankind has made enormous advances in science (which is the focus of MacKay’s book), technology and medicine, we have not fared so well in our relationship to one another and to our God. For example, man cannot seem to exist without the presence of war. American historian and philosopher Will Durant stated “Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos.” He and his wife Ariel concluded that in 5000 years of human history, there have been less than 100 years in which a war did not happen (The Story of Civilization). Another writer, Conway Henderson noted that since 3500 B.C, there have been 14,500 wars, costing 3.5 billion lives. As Durant once said, we do not seem to learn from our mistakes:” History is a good teacher with very few pupils.”
The source of man’s problems, according to the Bible, is the sin which is entrenched in his nature: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? [The parts which form our sinful human nature.] You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. [God] You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you might spend it own your own pleasures.” (James 4:1-3)
Selfishness and rebellion against the Creator are the things which form the daily news headlines. We are failing in our management of planet Earth because we refuse to give God the glory which He deserves. In turn, we hurt other people. In spite of our incredible stewardship in some areas, we are miserably failing overall. The only solution is to pursue, as MacKay argued, the priorities of our God. This, he said, is our “destiny” and our “dignity.”
We have dominion over the earth and one day we will be held accountable for it. The Bible declares it this way: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)