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Friday, May 11, 2018

Who Has Charge Of Planet Earth?

"Saint Anne," 8th century painting. She appears to have just realized something very significant. 

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The room fell breathlessly silent.

I was speaking to a group of Christian school teachers and administrators at a conference when I posed this question: "What is the purpose of education?" 

Before anyone could reply, I answered: "The purpose of education is to equip the next generation to govern well over this material world."

I let the silence hang. Then someone near the front broke the silence: "Would you mind repeating that?"

I did.

Then I asked if anyone had ever told them this before, and not a single hand was raised.

Yet, what specific role and function does the Bible say God had in mind for humans before He created us? Clearly, God had governance of Planet Earth in mind, when He said: "Let Us make man in Our likeness and image, and let them rule over...all the earth..."

Psalm 115:16 says: "The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.” The Message puts it this way: “The heaven of heavens is for God, but he put us in charge of the earth.” 

See also Psalm 8. 

Yes, "the earth is the Lord's and everything in it" (Psalm 24:1), yet He has given humans charge of it, as His appointed Vice-regents.

Wait! Really?! Who has charge of Planet Earth? 

You and I do. And our neighbors. Think about it. Human beings were created for the express duty of governing over God's earth and everything in it. This includes water, electricity, fish, cows, carrots, digital images, e-books, airplanes and ice cream!

I believe this is why George Swinnock, the Puritan leader, said: “The pious tradesman will know that his shop as well as his chapel is holy ground.” 

We were created to rule over whole systems, too, because without systems, governance over things cannot happen. This is why we need legal systems, civil systems and economic systems that work well. We need economists, judges and legislators with their heads screwed on straight.

So if it is God's intention for human beings to govern over this material world, shouldn't the purpose of education be to equip the next generation to do this well? 

This provides meaning for education--and purpose for teachers. Yet, few Christian teachers have heard this. Why? 

Hint: How many sermons have you heard about God giving humans charge of Planet Earth?

Christian school leaders, please click here.

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