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We Are Rulers

The very next words that God spoke over us during our creation, in the same sentence, no less, as being created in His image, say of mankind, “let them rule.” “Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

We were made to be rulers. To have authority. Dominion. Just a few verses later, God says, “fill the earth and subdue it” (verse 28). Conquer it. Bring it under control. Bring it under our own will. Everything that we can see, taste, touch, smell, and hear (on the earth, anyway) was given to our care and leadership.

Can you imagine being the only two people on the entire planet, before it was overpopulated, polluted, and covered in concrete, and being given the command to subdue it? What an awesome responsibility!

And what an adventure! You see, we were never meant to live life on the sidelines. Think about God’s creation for a second—Niagara Falls, ocean waves that could swallow a city, the Himalayas, the Grand Canyon, lions, elephants, giraffes, the rain forest, the Sahara desert, the polar ice caps—our life was to be full of excitement, of conquering every obstacle, of exploration and awe at the everyday wonders of God’s power and majesty.

We were also meant to make tough decisions as rulers often do: to direct creation, to guide it, grow it, protect it, and even to create and establish it for ourselves. When God commanded us to rule the earth, He gave us authority over it. “Authority” comes from the root “author,” and to have authority means that we also have the power to create, to build, to design, and to change. God painted the most beautiful picture ever painted, and then He gave it to us and said, “Now my painting is your canvas. Take it and make it your own.”

Now we don’t have a concept of how long it took between creation and the fall, but we do know that something went terribly wrong only three chapters into the story. Almost as quickly as they were given authority, mankind gave it up to another.

You see, though we were given authority, we were also under authority. Job 1:21 says that the Lord gives, and the Lord also takes away. It is only by His authority that our authority meant anything to begin with. But that same spirit that led the greatest of all angels to become the devil himself, convinced us that our authority was greater than the Lord’s.

Through the very creation we were given rule over (the serpent), we were deceived, and we made the decision to abandon God’s authority to make gods of ourselves. We let the rulership go to our heads. This is why Proverbs 16 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (verse 18)

But interestingly enough, just as God has the power to take back the authority He’s given, we too have the power to restore rightful authority to the earth. Romans 8:20-22 tells us the story of coming redemption.

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”

Since the time of the fall, creation has been groaning, waiting until the day when it will be delivered into the “glorious liberty of the children of God.” We were made to be rulers, but when we abandoned our position, this world went into bondage. It is waiting, longing for that day when we take our rightful place again, and creation will be set free. The Scripture doesn’t say “if creation will be delivered,” but that it “will be delivered.” It’s simply waiting for us to realize who we really are, and subdue the earth once again.

One of my all-time favorite stories is that of The Lion King. In it, Simba, the young prince of the Pride Lands is deceived by his uncle Scar. Scar leads Simba to believe that he was responsible for his father’s death, and so he runs away from his identity as king, giving authority instead to his uncle, the one who was really responsible for killing his father.

All alone in the wilderness, and with death fast approaching, Simba is discovered by two friends, who themselves were outcast from society. Timon and Pumba are fun-loving, care-free, and altogether odd personalities. They rescue Simba and teach him their motto, “Hakuna Matata.”

“It means no worries, for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata,” or so the song goes, and Simba is enticed to forget the trouble behind him, forget about his dreams and identity of being king, and distract himself with the good things of life, completely avoiding all responsibility for his actions.

But when someone from his past enters the story again, Simba can’t help but face reality. Scar has ruled with an iron fist, and the Pride Lands lay in ruin. The people are starving, overworked, oppressed, weary, and afraid. They no longer enjoy the “liberty of the children of God.”

And through the help of a crazy monkey, Simba realizes his true identity as king. He realizes that his father lives on in him (a spiritual lesson for us all), and that he must rise up, face the truth, confront his deceiver, and restore the kingdom to its rightful order.

Though this is just a story, it bears witness, like so many of the stories we love, to the bigger story unfolding around us. We, like Simba, have forgotten who we are. We are distracted by the things in our lives that keep us from the pain of our forsaken identity. But the time has come to remember. One of the most powerful scenes in this story is when Simba’s father appears to him in the clouds, and I can’t help but hear God speak to me every time I see it.

“Simba,” he says, “you have forgotten me. You have forgotten who you are and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.”

“But how can I go back?” asks Simba. “I’m not who I used to be.”

“Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king . . . . Remember who you are.”

It’s time for us to remember. It’s time, as the children of God, to take back our authority over all creation, and bring it once again under the Lordship of our Creator. We were made to rule.

Continue to We Are Creators ->
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