Subdue the Earth: Exploring the OTHER Great Commission


The great commission for creative types like musicians, illustrators or writers. Subdue the earth explained. Finally.

It’s 33 A. D.

You’re on the side of a mountain in Galilee within earshot of the resurrected Jesus.

You hear him , “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Now, travel back in time to just after the creation of the world–give or take a few thousand years.

You’re in a garden. You see a man. A woman. You hear God tell that man and woman this:

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. 

That, my friend, is the OTHER great commission.

Whatever Happened to Subduing the Earth?

Unfortunately that commission has been nearly abandoned by Christians.

Listen. We are no longer dominating culture. We are copying it. Mimicking it. Shadowing it.

In fact, our culture–not Christ–is dominating us.

That’s why you have long-standing biblical doctrines like hell shoved into the basement.

That’s why you have gaudy knock-offs in “Christian” bookstores.

It’s as if we are afraid to be bold. Courageous. Risk takers. And God forbid we offend a culturally-savvy skeptic.

This is what it boils down to: We are not being obedient to God’s original commission. We’ve become followers–in every sector–not leaders.

Yet this is simply not about being a visionary. It’s something all of us can do.

What Does Subduing the Earth Look Like?

What do we do to roll back this tide and overwhelm our culture–the world–with a Christ-centered, God-exalting mandate to create?

For me, as a writer, subduing the earth looks something like this: Write wide and write often.

1. Write novels.

2. Write blog posts.

3. Write articles.

4. Give lectures.

5. Write poems.

Mind you, the point behind this exercise is not to exalt self. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m done with exalting self.

What I want to do is exalt God. To give glory to Christ. And to take some outlandish risks along the way in my reckless pursuit to proclaim the gospel.

That means much more than simply sharing the gospel. Nor does it mean this civilization-creation stuff is reserved for creative types like musicians, illustrators or writers.

Subjugating the earth includes all types.

Who Can Subdue the Earth?

It includes software engineers. Political negotiators. Produce buyers. Librarians. CEOs. Automakers.

You name it. We need people in those fields subduing the earth for Christ.

God blessed us so we could build civilizations complete with governments, businesses, technology, schools and museums.

And then fill them.

Now, on the outside, these institutions may look strangely like pagan institutions.

But they’re not.

Look on the inside and you see a soul transformed by Christ.

You see a utility company worker bent on providing ample water to surrounding communities. And charging a fair price.

You see a pharmaceutical company designing affordable anti–convulsant drugs for children in developing countries.

You see a blogger reporting on the financial investment world. And telling the truth–no matter how much it costs him.

That’s subduing the earth.

One benefit of subduing the earth is it offers an enticing haven to unbelievers. Who wouldn’t want to live in a community where selfless cooperation, beautiful creativity and honest communication were in abundant supply?

We have the means to build a moral, just world. And the love to fill it.

So what about you: What can you do to build a civilization that honors Christ? Who do you consider to be Christian visionaries subduing the earth? Looking forward to your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “Subdue the Earth: Exploring the OTHER Great Commission

  1. Jared

    I think one of the best modern examples would be R.G. LeTourneau. He truly fits the description of somebody who subdued the earth (literally) with his earthmoving and forestry equipment. He even built Christian colonies in Liberia and Peru. We should, however, take a note from his efforts and fruits when considering trying to create a “moral, just world”. His efforts ended in failure, as did the commune-like living of the early church in the book of Acts. God does want us to subdue the earth, and be moral and just in our living, but until sin is eliminated there will never be a truly moral and just world. There will always be a level of failure and futility in our labors until Christ reigns as king over all the earth. But when that day comes, how glorious it will be!

    1. DemianFarnworth

      Great answer Jared. Never heard of LeTourneau. Looking forward to learning more. Can you recommend any resources? Your last two sentences are spot on. Looking for that day!

  2. bob

    Interesting indeed. I found this by doing a search on subduing. First I came across Masonic article that talked about subduing our passions. Obviously this is a work of the flesh in attempt to be “right” and “good”. Eph 2:9-10 shows us the contrast of these 2 kinds of work. Our external works cannot change our sinful nature (vs 9), but in verse 10 we are changed from the inside out by the blood of Christ to do good works. I believe the good works of Ephesians 2:10 are the same works of Genesis. The command of Genesis 1:28 to subdue the earth was given before the fall. The good works of Eph 2:10 are after redemption.

    I did this search because I wanted to see if anyone else was talking about this.

    We are to be operating as Godly men and women having emotional stability and good mental clarity because of the redeeming work of Christ inside us.

    May we be a people who do what He says and demonstrate His character by accomplishing great things as we live in submission one to another.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *