God originally designed us with the three purposes in mind, the third purpose being:
To steward his rule and reign in creation by reflecting His glory and character to creation.
God placed our great-great-great parents in the Garden of Eden to have dominion over the creation.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
Humanity was called to steward God’s rule on behalf of God to the Creation. God shared this privilege with mankind. We were to have have dominion over creation as His caretakers, not to dominate it. And we were not to confuse our role with God’s role. We are the stewards, God is the owner. We are the managers, God is the Creator, for that is God’s position alone.
And how were we to steward his rule and reign? By providing creation a glimpse of God. We were created in His image so that we might reflect His glory and character to all of the Garden–His goodness, kindness, and mercy. We possessed that ability as we lived in His presence (purpose #1) and in authentic relational community (purposer #2). So as the moon reflects the sun, we were to reflect the care and supervision of God to the creation.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . .
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 ESV)
We were to be stewards of the King and His Kingdom, to ‘image’ God to the creation. And it was good…
But Then the Fall Happened
After the Fall, humanity ceases to steward God’s Kingdom and instead we begin to attempt to build our own kingdoms. We ceased to graciously have dominion over creation and instead tried to dominate it for our own benefit. We tried to play the role of God. This is clearly seen in the Tower of Babel account (Genesis 11:1-9 mouseover verse), where man decided they would be ‘just like God.’ Of course this leads to disaster, and we, when we choose to live apart from Christ, continue to take the same tact and yield the same results on a global scale–wars, terror, genocide, abortion, etc.–and on an individual level–dominating others for the almighty dollar, sexual gain, or position. We build our own castles and bastions of power. Our ability to accurately reflect God’s glory and character to creation was distorted like a tarnished fun-house mirror.
The Fall also affected creation as it attempts to dominate us. Instead of willfully yielding as in the Garden, the post-Fall creation requires man to toil to receive its fruits. To Adam, God says:
Cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread, (Genesis 3:17-19 ESV)
And so Our Enemy used fallen creation to rail against humanity with disease, distortion, defects and yes, even brains that are biologically susceptible to addiction, habitual sin, and hurting others. This biological crash-and-burn does not render us free of culpability, but it can compound our willful capitulation towards sin. As Christians, we don’t have to totally discount the addiction-as-disease model but we cannot completely concede our wrong behavior to it either.
So, here ends Act 1 of the Three Purposes. Humanity is left beaten and broken, exiled from Eden and aliens to the ability to fulfill God’s intended purposes. BUT GOD is infinitely good and had foreseen the Fall, and He had a rescue plan in place for us before He ever began creation. All was not lost, and all is not lost for you or me no matter how far we have drifted from God or sunken into the mire of our sin. There is Good News coming….stay tuned.