Saturday, April 08, 2006

Life as a Revolution

In this series of Saturday-Posts, we are exploring what living a life founded in Christ and the Church as a Steward in a certain place looks like. Last week, we engaged the reality that as followers of Christ, our lives need to be centered on Him and lived out in a community of faith (we’ll delve deeper into the importance of place next week). Today, we will explore what life as a Steward should look like on a general level, mainly because there is too much to say once we begin to drill into specifics. Though we will examine an overview, I hope that readers will be encouraged to consider these thoughts and how these ideas apply to their own understanding of living as a follower of Christ.

Founded in Christ and the Church as a Steward

Typically, when someone speaks or hears the word “steward” a limited understanding comes with it, and people think mainly of money and the environment. In other words, a person simply considers the need to steward his dollars and a responsibility to care for Creation. And, if that person simply tithes and recycles, then, generally, most would qualify that person as a “good steward.”

This is how most of us operate, and I submit that this understanding of stewardship is limited and narrow. Stewardship does not begin or end in one realm of a person’s life, rather it is a way of life. We, as God’s people, are Stewards and Caretakers (Genesis 2:15), and our life of Stewardship begins and ends in Christ, as was outlined last week. This is the role that the Father has given us, and in living out this role we reflect our King’s glory to the world. Because Stewardship implies responsibility most people these days get suspicious because it endangers their ability to live for themselves. But, we, as Image-bearers of our King, must take seriously our call to live as Stewards of all that He gives us. In doing so, we have an opportunity to reveal our King to a world that needs to know Him.

Granted, “all that He gives us” is a very expansive phrase, and it is so for a reason. Because, if we believe that God does give us everything we have—gifts of time, money, life, opportunity, skills, talents, relationships, body, minds, work, etc.—then we must be Stewards of all that He places in our lives. And, we quickly realize that in order to really live well as Stewards, it must be our way of life, and not some neat term confined to one aspect of our lives.

There is danger in limiting stewardship to certain realms of our lives because it subtly teaches us that we are the creators and owners of all other aspects of our lives, and we tend toward self-sufficiency once again (which should probably be acknowledged as a continual struggle for any human). We simply hate to give up control of the steering wheel. Furthermore, it is dangerous to limit our definition of stewardship because we, in turn, reduce our opportunities to reveal the love of Christ, and Restoration is stunted. (It’s worth noting, as we did last week, that our participation in Redemption is a wonderful gift in and of itself, and we should receive it in humility not as a means to our own salvation)

So, what does all of this really mean? What does it look like to allow our role as Stewards to shape the way we live? Well, it means a lot of things, and I will avoid looking at certain examples because I do not want to tempt people into thinking that there is some hierarchy of stewardship by only focusing attention on a few aspects of life. Instead, I want us to talk and think and pray about what a life as a Steward looks like. But, in general, it means understanding and believing that God give us resources in time, relationships, opportunities, money, mind, body, truth, work, education, etc. And, we, as Stewards, are to care for those resources in a way that glorifies the Father, honors and loves our neighbor, and strategically uses them toward the effort of Redemption. We should look to multiply and pass what we have along to others, not out selfishness or negligence, but out of a need to share the real Hope of the Kingdom. As we do so, we bring glory to the King in only a way that a expanded understaning of stewardship can. So, consider what your definition of Stewardship is and what you typically apply it to, and ask God to expand it to include all areas of your life and everything in it. Ask God to shape you, and enable you to steward what you have been given well.

Finally, as we learn about Stewardship we must remember that it is a holistic response to our King’s love for us, His people, and His desire to use us in the restoration of Creation. It is not an effort toward salvation. If we have a mature understanding of the Sacrifice Christ made for us, we should not be able to restrain ourselves—we should find the reality of His deep love for us as a magnificent motivator to live everyday as a caretaker of all he has given us. This way of life should begin and end in our King. Remember, we bear our Father’s Image—let us bear it well, that the King might be glorified.

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