Summary: With the creation of heaven, God established Himself as a King. Because He is Agape Love, He made humans kings as well by creating another physical realm for them to rule. He will only rule that realm through a human body. By His Spirit, we can fulfill God’s dominion mandate.
In the introduction post for this series, I explained that understanding how to operate in healthy church life requires clearly understanding the concept of a kingdom. That’s what we’re about to do. To begin understanding kingdoms better, we’re going to start by understanding how kingdoms begin…with the establishment of dominion.
To have dominion means to have sovereign rulership. Depending on the government imposed over a particular domain, rulership can be held or shared by many different types of entities (dictators, branches of government, etc.). In a kingdom, dominion is held by a king. The king carries the responsibility for ruling the kingdom.
Dominion requires a territory
But, just because someone calls themselves a king, doesn’t mean that they are. For a king to be a king, they have to have a territory to rule over. After all, the first thing you would ask someone who claimed to be a king would be “what territory do you rule?” If that person didn’t have an answer, their claim to be a king would be meaningless. A king is no king at all if He doesn’t rule a territory.
Since this is the case, God created His own territory to rule. The very act of creation showed us that kingship (not dictatorship) is God’s nature. He created for Himself a territory (the invisible heavenly kingdom) to rule over sovereignly by Himself.
Now you might be thinking “That’s not all He created. He also created the visible earthly realm as well to rule over.”
You’re right…kind of. I say “kind of” because His relationship to that realm would be different. God’s dominion would be bequethed to someone else (while keeping ownership).
God wanted to share His dominion
Why would He do such a thing? Because Agape Love is His nature. He wasn’t satisfied with keeping His Kingly nature to Himself. Because Agape Love gives and shares of itself, He wanted to share His rulership with another being that would be like Him. He would do this by sharing His nature and characteristics. He would make another in His image to share His kingship with and give that new being a territory to rule over.
Here’s how the book of Genesis (1:26-28) puts it…
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
God’s ultimate purpose for humans? To bear His image and have dominion over the earth.
Man was created to be a king
The concept of being made in His image here means to carry His essential nature, characteristics, and essence. The way a child bears the image of their parents is a picture of that.
Man is to be a king as God is a King. God is the King of human kings.
This is why if you dive deeply into all of man’s pursuits, you will find dominion as the underlying motivation. It’s to have power and control over every area of life.
But, it’s not power and control in the sinful sense that we’ve come to know it. It’s in a righteous sense. It’s power and control to use everything in the physical realm for what it was designed for.
Of course, we now go about seeking that dominion in unhealthy selfish ways and reaping those consequences. But dominion is what we’re after, even if most people are currently going after it with unrighteous motivations.
God requires a human body
So God has dominion over heaven, but man has dominion over the earth. Why is this important to notice? Because God established the conditions of His relationship with the earth.
He wouldn’t directly have dominion over the earth. Instead, He would have indirect influence over it through man.
We’ll talk more about what representation in a kingdom means in a future post. But essentially, he placed man as His Kingdom representative to colonize new territory.
Ever notice that God doesn’t do things on earth without the cooperation of a human entity? This is why He had to come in a human body to re-establish the Kingdom on the earth. God designed it so that He would only use human bodies to accomplish His will on the earth.
This is a principle God will not violate. Although He is all-powerful and can do whatever He wants, He stays true to this commitment. A King’s word is law and cannot change.
So then, how does God accomplish anything on the earth? He takes His cue from humans. He may want to do something, but He is faithful to allow humans to have dominion over the earth.
As His representatives, we give Him permission to act. But it’s not in the authoritative sort of way, as if He has to come to us for approval. Instead, it’s more like an alignment.
We can choose to align ourselves with the will of the King and allow Him to work in and through us to accomplish that will on the earth. This is what prayer is supposed to be.
But if we don’t align ourselves with His will, He won’t override the authority He’s given us. We ultimately have a choice in whether we allow God to accomplish His will on the earth or not.
This is why bad things happen on earth. You always hear people ask why a loving God would allow bad things to happen? Why would He allow the Fall of Man and its subsequent consequences? It’s because He’s faithful.
Because He is faithful to His Word as a King, humans decide what to do with God’s dominion mandate, whatever those choices may be. He has done just that and remained faithful.
The 2nd man regained dominion
Little did we know the great mystery of the ages! There would come a 2nd human who would perfectly align Himself with the will of God and regain the Kingdom the 1st human chose to give away. He circumvented His own law and stayed faithful to His word by wrapping Himself in a human body to do what we were powerless to do. Brilliant!
One important thing to notice about man’s purpose as stated in the Genesis passage is…there was one life form humans were not designed to have dominion over – other humans. God never intended man to have dominion over his own kind. Instead, he designed man as a corporate kingship; to rule together as children of the King as sibling kings.
After the Fall, instead of having power and self-control over our bodies and the earth, you can see how we now allow those same things to dominate us. In his book Rediscovering the Kingdom, the late Myles Monroe says…
It is truly amazing how many kinds of things we allow to dominate us. We are supposed to have dominion over plants and yet look how we allow plants to run (and ruin) our lives: coca leaves from Columbia, tobacco leaves from Cuba, grape juice and grains used to make wine and liquor. We are supposed to rule our passions and desires – sex, greed, drugs, power, money, and possessions – but instead, they often rule over us.
But God came in a human body, and through that human body restored human dominion over all of these things by perfectly dominating them. Then, that dominion was passed on to us. We now have the opportunity to exercise it once again. We have to work it out by faith, but it’s ours.
Just look at the beginning of the book of Acts (4:32) where it says…
No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
That doesn’t happen in a group of people dominated by their stuff. This only happens when a group of people has complete dominion over their stuff.
Paul also points out the concept of dominion in I Corinthians 6:12 when he says…
Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
He also says in Romans 12 that our bodies are to be a living sacrifice. This means that we are to have dominion over them to be used for God’s purposes; that which they were built for. If our bodies are under the control of plants, they cannot effectively function to carry out God’s will on the earth.
We’re not instructed to lay off wine because there’s something inherently evil about wine. It’s because when it dominates us, it changes our personalities and affects our bodies in ways that make it impossible to be animated instead by the Spirit of God to accomplish His will.
Ultimately, God gave us everything physical as our territory to rule over as He rules over the heavenly realm. As His children, His eternal purpose was for us to share in His nature and characteristics through having dominion as kings.
Understanding God’s Kingdom
Understanding God’s dominion in His Kingdom has several practical repercussions. I’ll end this post with 3 major ones…
If God will only work on the earth through a human body, then our role to His eternal purpose is more essential than you thought.
Your and your church’s choices about how to execute your lives on a daily basis is the #1 factor in God accomplishing what He wants to accomplish on the earth through you. Ultimately, God will get what He wants. But we affect how that plays out, and if we’re involved in it.
If we’re passive spectators that don’t prioritize His Kingdom mission, He can’t and won’t force us to. He’ll work with and through the people and churches that align with His priorities and will. But He won’t work with and through those that want Him to align with their own priorities and will.
Each church should be a place that provides an environment where the Kingdom mission is central and supreme; to the point where anyone that doesn’t want to make that the case won’t want to stick around.
Our mental, physical and emotional health matters A LOT.
Every culture has their vices and every culture has those they turn a blind eye to for some reason. In my culture (America), we tend to turn a blind eye to some major mental, physical and emotional health issues. There are just some things we never talk about and sweep under the rug, so to speak.
For example, gluttony (and therefore obesity) is rampant. But it’s something that’s never addressed. We pass it off as just bad genes. Our church pot lucks are filled with fatty, sugary fake food that leads to addiction and disease.
Depression is everywhere. We just call it a disease, pop a pill and move on without working to address the reasons WHY we’re depressed.
There are many sins we take very seriously, and for good reason. But there’s just some in each culture that get a pass and we accept their domination over us.
Now I’m not aiming to be insensitive here. I deal with these issues myself. But we must realize that we can’t optimally execute Kingdom dominion if we’re sick, tired and depressed. We must tackle them head on and transform them.
God has given us back rulership and authority over ALL areas of life. We are called to work it from the inside out so that we can progressively be less hindered by unhealthiness and have the wherewithal to execute God’s will on the earth.
Each church should be a place that provides an environment where people can exercise this dominion.
The issue of humans exercising dominion over other humans in the church is more important, rampant and unhealthy than you think.
You might have thought in the past (or right now) that how church is done doesn’t matter much. That it’s about whatever works for each person. To each his own, you might say. But, this is why it does. If you operate in an environment that gives a human an opportunity to have dominion over another human, it’s likely going to happen. Yes, I’m talking about Christians here.
God’s design was that humans would be sibling kings exercising corporate dominion together. Hierarchy, power, and control that puts one human over another violates this design. That’s why I will always claim that the place to start to have healthy church life is with this issue.
You must be in an environment that doesn’t separate people into classes of Christians where some are more important than others, doesn’t give people special titles or positions, and doesn’t elevate or celebritize people as superior Christians for being the most talented.
Each church should be an environment that operates in a “though they are many, they are one” sort of way.
These are just a few of the conclusions you have to come to if you understand God’s dominion mandate for humans in His Kingdom. I trust there are many others that will occur to you if you continue to ponder this principle.
The rest of the posts in the Understanding God’s Government series are here.