Genesis 1-2 outlines Gods design for the relationship between 1)man and nature, 2)man and God, 3)nature and God.
God created the cosmos for which he then created a human caretaker. Dominion was given to man. Though it is quickly seen in chapter 3 when man ‘sins’ it is not just a sacred thing between him and God. His ‘sin’ had a negative impact on nature around him.
God is owner, and founder of the Universe.
His relationship with nature is primarily by way of the managers he set in place. Men and Women created in his own image.
Mans relationship to God is then briefly outlined; You have a unique father like relationship with your boss who made you like himself. Mans relationship with nature is outlined as well, the system God created is open. It is effected by mans choices, there is great potential in nature both for good and for harm.
Modern man (1600-1900’s) began to see man and nature anonymous of Gods direct influence. Their first mistake was the deist theology. That God though he is there has no involvement in the universe or in the affairs of man. Their first mistake lead quickly to man becoming the complete measure of all things. That God no longer seemed rational therefore man and nature is all that there is. Terms such has humanism, modernism, and then enlightenment refer generally to this theological and philosophical activity.
The effect on theology was that those who continued to engage with scripture did so without any commitment to the bible as something reliable. There priory effort was to untangle the bible and its message from all reality. They were very effective in their work. The church reacted. Their reaction was not to guard the message of scripture by way of critical literary studies, or contextualism, rather they gave in to the new onslaught of scholarly activity an retreat inward. Since closer analysis seemed to contradict scripture as reliable the evangelical world put their emphasis on experimental faith experiences. People kept getting ‘saved’ and the church still grew steady. The missions movement thrusted forward with men like John Wesley with a passion to see the lost reached with the gospel of Christ. Certainly we are reminded that in a generation when such attacks on scripture were so effective, Christ is not bound. Though to end there would be to disregard that the church had failed to see the importance for future generations of the battles lost of the historicity and literary, and cultural legitimacy of scripture.
Just as culture and philosophy moved away from a more unified worldview, where God/Man/Nature where a tangled messy relationship. So the church rejected the modern notion of natures biblical significance. Since modern man sought to remove God, modern evangelicalism sought to remove the man/God relationship from nature, history, fact, science, critical studies.
The great commission of Christ is not merely a save souls plan. It is a disciple nations plan. It surely includes the evangelical biblical concept of salvation of the soul, but it includes the mind, and the body.
Mans relationship with nature is not everything.
Mans relationship with God is not everything ( though when man is in ‘right’ relationship with God it would mean that his relationship with his whole self, and with nature is coming in line as well)
Gods relationship with Nature: He created it and it was Good. We screwed it up. But his plan was to use humanity to make it even better. God is in the process of redeeming all things. Not just souls, but the whole man. Not just man but the whole of creation.
The Great Commission is better understood when Gods whole narrative is in our grasp. The from the beginning Gods Commission for man was to care for nature, to nurture and bring life forever. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 is God using the church of Christ to fulfill his Genesis 1 Commission.