"The Lenses of Reformation Concerning Covenantal Stewardship over the Earth"
by Dr. Patti Amsden
Romans 8:19-23 (NIV): “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoptions as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Reformation lens #1 – Creation is looking for its earth managers, and it knows that only mature sons who are formed in the image of the Son can fully manage the earth. So creation expectantly waits.
The passage continues by stating that the believer and the creation are both groaning as they each wait for the full release from the curse. Advancing the believer onward to full victory is the Holy Spirit. From glory to glory He is changing us. The more we are conformed to the image of Christ, the more accurately we can re-present that image in creation. Creation’s release is tied to our release. So, we both groan. For the believer, full removal from all the effects of the curse will occur definitely at the resurrection of the body at the end of the age. The last effects of the curse on creation will be lifted at the same event.
Reformation lens #2 – The curse on man is reflected by the curse on the earth; the removal of the curse on man will be reflected by the removal of the curse from the earth.
The church is not inactive waiting for some magical day at the end of time any more than the Holy Spirit is inactive. He is changing us internally, and we are changing our worlds externally. The degree to which we reflect our internal change onto the external world is the degree to which creation is liberated. Sons of God who are not revealed, not unveiled, not manifested (apokalypsis) cannot help the creation.
Reformation lens #3 – The Sons of God must get visible and work within the creation to affect liberty and freedom from the curse.
From the honored place as under God and over the works of God’s hand, we labor within the earth, within time, and within the framework of God’s revealed Word. Our earthly labors are not only our duty; they are our purpose and our privilege. God has ordained that the created order ranks under man, so we tend to our charge. We tend to it faithfully and diligently.
Reformation lens #4 – From our hearts, to our families, to our businesses, to our cities, to our nation, and to the world, we apply God’s Word as agents of reformation.
As Reformers, are commissioned to re-form the earth after the pattern of heaven. Jesus told us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 5:10). We pray for that and we labor for that. As Christ’s ambassadors, we bring heaven to earth. It doesn’t occur in one cataclysmic event. Heaven comes to earth through each reformation act; each re-formed family, and each re-formed institution. “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.” These are the words of the famous carol “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts. As agents of reformation we should join that anthem with our song, with our faith, and with our labors; until “the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is. 11:9) and until the creation is liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.