The Spiderman movies have popularised a saying that has been true from the very beginning:
"With great power comes great responsibility."
Genesis 1 places humankind at the apex of Creation and places humankind firmly in charge of creation. The verbs are strong: Be fruitful; increase; fill the earth; subdue it and rule over all creatures. What is missing from the English is the nuance of "blossom" in "be fruitful", the sense of quality as well as quantity in "increase" and the sense of "govern" in "rule over". Ironically the word for "subdue" is used positively to talk about "taming" but is also used negatively in the sense of "violate".
These instructions are given to us before Adam and Eve's failure unleashed sin and brokenness in our world. The picture we have of Adam in Genesis 2 is of one who cares for and tends the garden and names its creatures. The act of naming indicates authority, but it also imparts dignity and worth to the one being named.
Well known Old Testament scholar Gordon Wenham summarises Genesis 1 and suggests that our relationship to the rest of creation should be characterised by , and .
This is what we see Adam doing.
Unfortunately, since sin came into our world, our track record with creation has been marked by abuse and violation instead of solidarity, benevolence and control.
Over the next few days we will consider the responsibility entrusted to us as the apex of God's creation.