In God’s kingdom, which he has set up by creating it, the special role he has assigned to humanity is that we should serve as his “under-kings,” vice-regents, or stewards. We are to rule over the creation so that God’s reputation is enhanced within his cosmic kingdom.
… Over this good creation, God calls the human “ruler” to serve as steward or under-sovereign, to embody God’s own care for, and protection of, his good creation in his own sovereign rule over the earth…
…To be human means to have huge freedom and responsibility, to respond to God and to be held accountable for that response. Thus, a better way of expressing the concept of humankind’s “dominion” over creation may be to say that we are God’s royal stewards, put here to develop the hidden potentials in God’s creation so that the whole of it may celebrate his glory.
Imagine that you are a fifteenth-century sculptor and one day receive an email from Michelangelo asking if you would be willing to come to his studio to complete a piece of work he has begun. He mentions that you are expected to continue his work in such a way that Michelangelo’s own reputation will be enhanced by the finished product!
…The passage that begins in Genesis 1:26 is often helpfully referred to as the “cultural or creation mandate.” It enjoins us to bring every type of cultural activity within the service of God. Indeed, there is a dynamic element to “the image of God.” God himself is revealed or “imaged” in his creation precisely as we are busy within the creation, developing its hidden potentials in agriculture, art, music, commerce, politics, scholarship, family life, church, leisure, and so on, in ways that honor God.
As we take God’s creative commands of “Let there be …” and develop the potentials in them, we continue to spread the fragrance of his presence throughout the world he has made.
~ Bartholomew & Goheen in The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story (pp. 37–38, bold emphases mine).