“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26, NASB).
As much as the secular humanists insist that man is just one tiny part of earth’s ecosystem, and a negligible one at that, the Bible gives a far different perspective. Mankind was put on the earth to rule and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). The earth was made for the human race.
This isn’t a license for us to go crashing around and destroying things like a bull in a china shop, though. While humankind was the crowning jewel of the creation, we were also put here to take care of the earth.
“Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
Even after the Fall, man’s job didn’t change. While the job became much more difficult after God cursed the ground, it didn’t mean Adam and his descendants were free to neglect their duties in caring for the planet. He failed the job of staying away from the Tree of Knowledge, but he must not fail at this task!
“Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken” (Genesis 3:23).
Does this mean we all need to be tree huggers and environmental activists? Of course not. First of all, too many activist groups fail to see mankind as having the “dominion” status God gave us. Some would travel the globe to save baby seals, then come home to kill the baby human who was carelessly conceived.
In a recent class, I learned that the monarch butterfly population is drastically diminished and that roughly one in a hundred eggs laid will make it to adulthood. There are steps that humans can take to help remedy this decline, starting with planting a food source. They eat only milkweed, so our little garden has had three types of milkweed growing in it, including a new one this year, “gomphocarpus physocarpus” — recently re-named from the Asclepias family.
What was surprising was the fact that various pathogens and predators are so prevalent. So, when I came across a monarch egg, I brought it indoors until it hatched. It is now a happy little caterpillar under the care of a 13-year-old future entomologist, another descendant of Adam! Since then I have re-homed another half dozen eggs and larvae, and await the grand opening of one chrysalis at home.
It wasn’t my plan to be a “monarch rescue service,” and some of my friends do many more rescues. Not everyone wants to have a part-time summer job of hunting milkweed leaves and cleaning up caterpillar frass! I don’t.
The bigger picture is that we were meant to take care of this big beautiful world God gave us, but that it’s not a job that consumes our lives. Rather, we need to be aware of our responsibilities, but not be ruled by them.
Do some of our banana peels and eggshells go into the trash rather than the compost? Well, yes; they do. It’s ok. We now have a more important task laid out for us in Mark 16:15-16. In many ways, it is similar to Adam’s job, tending and caring for God’s creation. In this case, however, there are spiritual rewards for our “rescues,” not just a better life on planet Earth!