The Surprising Truth of God's Incomplete Creation

By Mark D. Roberts

May 15, 2015

God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ ”

Genesis 1:28


If I were to say that when God created the world he didn’t finish the job, you might wonder if I’m a heretic. It sounds like I’m saying that God messed up or that God’s creation wasn’t perfect. I’m not suggesting either thing. Genesis reveals that God’s creation was good and even very good. What God made was perfect, without any flaw or blemish. So, God finished the job he intended to do, without question.

But it’s clear from Genesis that God did not intend to create a finished product when he made the earth. He did not fill it up with living creatures, including human beings. Surely God could have created billions of animals and people. But he chose otherwise. In the case of humanity, the narrative of Genesis shows that God created only two people at first. It would be their job, and that of their heirs, to fill the world and govern it. In this sense, human beings would be God’s co-workers, even God’s co-creators. We are charged with finishing the job that God began.

This is an extraordinary responsibility and opportunity, to say the least. It’s an honor and privilege to be given such authority over something so precious to God.

I’m reminded of an experience I had early in my tenure in church ministry. I was working as the college director for Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, the senior pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian Church. In addition to his leadership of the church, Lloyd had teamed up with a publisher to create what was then called “The Communicator’s Commentary,” a multi-volume series on the whole Bible. He had carefully overseen the editing of the New Testament volumes. But, with so many responsibilities on his shoulders, Lloyd did not believe he had the time to edit the Old Testament volumes in a way that met his high standards. So he asked me take on this project. He offered to hire me as a private contractor, since the work was not part of my job description at church. Of course I was pleased at the prospect of making a little extra money. But, more than anything, I was astounded that someone for whom I had so much respect would entrust to me something he cared so much about. I was deeply honored by Lloyd’s invitation and took on the project with delight and zeal. (The series is still in print, by the way, now as The Preacher’s Commentary, published by Thomas Nelson.)

Here’s some life-changing good news. You have been asked by the Creator of the universe to help finish the work he began. God has the capacity, of course, to complete the job without you. But in his grace and providence, God has chosen to delegate to you a significant aspect of his creative and sustaining work.

Let me urge you to think about this as you go about your day today. In all you do, may you see your labor as helping to complete what God began in Genesis, and may you be honored by the privilege of sharing in this grand work.


Have you ever thought about the fact that God created the world perfect but unfinished? How does this truth strike you? How might it change the way you think and act each day?


Gracious God, what an amazing choice you made when you created the earth. You could have made it both perfect and complete. You could have bypassed the risk of entrusting the world to human beings. But in your providence and grace, you made human beings as your partners. You gave us the opportunity to share in your work, to finish what you began. Thank you.

Of course we didn’t do so well with this task, Lord. But, today, I want to focus on the wonder of being invited to share in your work. When I think of the fact that you want my participation, I am floored. I am amazed. I am humbled. I find that I want to steward well what you have entrusted to me, to do all that I do with excellence for you. May it be so, by your grace and power. Amen.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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