Episode 3 - Hail The Guiding Star
God’s commission to humans in Genesis 1:28 is often referred to by theologians as the “culture mandate.” It is the special task that the Creator gave His people, the task of tilling and keeping the earth (Gen. 2:5), of joining with our maker in the work of making. Not exactly like Him but with Him and by Him. Humans can’t create ex nihilo (out of nothing), that’s God’s job, but He gave us the necessary ingredients to make something of the world. Humans didn’t create medicinal herbs but we used them make medicine. We didn’t invent blue, but we did create mediums to capture its essence. Using the gifts of God, to creatively and carefully build on the foundation God laid, is the job of culture making. This is both an ability and a responsibility.
Ability is the power to make something of the world, the power to steward God’s gifts, and seek the flourishing of the world around you. Ability is the use of our hands and disposable thumbs. Ability is the creative consciousness to dream, plan, and collaborate. Ability is the power to fulfill the culture mandate, to know the creator, and to love the other––it is the gift of image bearing.
Ability may be power to image God and fulfill the culture mandate, but actually fulfilling the culture mandate is a responsibility. We have a responsibility to make something of the world, to take what God has given and push it to it’s full potential. Responsibility is the job of inventing, building, taming, and producing to the glory of God and the good of others. Responsibility is the call to cultivate the world well, to steward this gift in a way that preserves its resources for generations to come. Responsibility is using ability and power in a way that maximizes joy and goodness.
But, what happens when ability and responsibility are separated, one overcoming the other?