Co-creators: The Human Vocation

It would be a mistake to think of creation as something God did all at once, ending God’s creative involvement with the world we inhabit. The bible is pretty clear that just as God spoke the world into existence, so God’s word continues to sustain all of life. God’s creative work is ongoing.

The coming of Jesus as an Incarnate Word is a sign that God is still at work for the good intentions related to the creation from the very beginning. Now the Word of God is bringing about a new creation in the form of a new heaven and a new earth. So, God’s creative work is ongoing and will result in the consummation of God’s creative intentions when on the Day of the Lord, God will be all in all.

The biblical view of the creative intentions of God leaves no room for a hard and fast distinction between the material and the spiritual. Humankind lives in the divinely given vocation when the care for the earth and our bodies is a priority.

This human vocation is made clear in the creation stories of Genesis 1-2. Humankind is blessed by the creator and given a role of stewardship for the rest of creation. It is surely part of bearing the divine image to care for the material world.

When Israel is called into covenant relationship with God, provision is made for the right treatment of land and possessions. The land is also to have sabbath, lying fallow every seventh year. There are provisions in the law against the clear cutting of trees. Israel’s life before God is necessarily a life with and for the land. Notably, Israel’s interdependence with the land is seen in Deuteronomy’s declaration that covenant infidelity will result in the land “vomiting them out.”

These examples could be multiplied, but these are enough to point to the reality that we have a divinely given vocation to live for the well-being of God’s creation. In our time of environmental degradation, this divine vocation has never been more critical.

This also means, however, that those who work in the areas of discovery (understanding creation) and preserving and extending creation’s health are participating in the spiritual work of co-creation with the Creator. Additionally, all of our efforts in activities like gardening, recycling, or reducing our carbon footprint through the conservation of energy are spiritual and related to our human vocation.

To see creation as a tool for our own use, rather than as a partner in the flourishing of all life is surely a perversion of the divine intention. It is sin. To choose profits at the expense of clean water and air is surely a denial of our divine vocation. Conversely, any attempts to constrain our appetites for the well-being of the other, including creation, is spiritually transformative.

Author: Mark Love

I am the Director of the Resource Center for Missional Leadership at Rochester College. Part of my job includes directing a master's degree in missional leadership, a situated learning degree. I am married to Donna and have a son, Josh Love, who lives in Portland, OR. With Donna, I have also inherited three great daughters and three amazing granddaughters.

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