On Sept. 3rd, Jessica Church, Good Steward Campaign's Field Director, traveled down to Charlottesville, Virginia to spend an evening talking faith, creation care, and stewardship with The University of Virginia's Canterbury Student Ministry. Attendance varied from first years to graduate students and conversation was lively.
We looked the story of Creation, specifically Genesis 1:26-31. The text reads as follows:
26Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God 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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
29God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
This is one of those texts that critics of the environmental movement use to debase Christian ideas of stewardship and creation care. But with careful examination, you can find that this Scripture is full of clues and instructions on how God relates to humans and how humans ought to relate to Creation.
First, we're told to have dominion over the Earth. But God has dominion over us, while still allowing us to develop, flourish, and be our truest, most unique selves. This is one way we can think of 'dominion' over the wild parts of nature. Don't stifle it. Rather, let it grow.
Second, versus 29-31 talk about livestock, plants, and food. In this respect, having 'dominion' is akin to being the best gardener or farm manager around. It means nurturing the land, planting seeds, and feeding those in your community.
We love praying, talking, and reflecting on Scripture with students at UVA. They asked tough questions, had insightful comments, and are passionate about being Good Stewards of this great Creation.
But this is only the first event of many! We'll be at 30 schools this fall, so stay tuned.