In Abraham Kuyper’s recently translated sermon, “Rooted & Grounded,” he explains that the church is both “organism” and “institution,” drawing from both nature and the work of human hands. Pointing to Ephesians 3:17, he writes that, “the church of the Lord is one loaf, dough that rise according to its nature but nevertheless kneaded with human hands, and baked like bread.”
Yet, as he goes on to note, this two-fold requirement is not limited to the church, but also applies “to every kind of life that comes into contact with human consciousness.” Further, it is a “fundamental law of creation.”
What follows is a stunningly poetic portrait of God’s created order and the call to human stewardship and cultivation therein:
Creation was fashioned by God, fashioned with life that surges and scintillates in its bosom, fashioned with the powers that lie dormant in its womb. Yet, lying there, it displayed but half its beauty. Now, however, God crowns it with humanity, who awakens its life, arouses its powers, and with human hands brings to light the glory that once lay locked in its depths but had not yet shone on its countenance.
The inanimate creation displays this. You need glance only at the terrain of our habitation and ask what it once was in its natural state and what it has become through the energetic activity of our ancestors. Similarly, witness the power that speeds our word along metal wires or our very persons along iron rails; this power lay embedded in that creation from the time of Eden already, but only now has it been discovered, analyzed, and harnessed by the spirit of man. Crops grow by organic power, but the human hand prepares a fertile soil for that crop, tames the wild acreage, prunes the wild shoots, guides the branches according to the flow of their juices, and by means of hybrids produces new kinds of plants. The wild forest creature surges and wriggles full of organic life, but only when tamed by people, bridled by the human hand, ennobled by human technique into thoroughbreds, does that wild natural power attain its goal. In short, compare the desolate place with the inhabited region, lay the creation accompanied by man alongside the creation apart from man, and everything bears witness, both of a creation immediately fashioned and of a perfecting of that creation that the Lord now completes through man.
For more, see Rooted & Grounded: The Church as Organism and Institution.