This Sunday, our church is finishing a three week series on stewardship. We've spent each week with a particular focus: one on time, one on talent, and one on treasure. It's been a blessing to see people come together and think critically about these various areas. This Sunday, we'll hand out our Giving Estimate sheets, and in two weeks, we'll dedicate the results of our stewardship campaign to God's work here in the New River Valley through Christ Lutheran Church.
Even as I preach on this topic and guide these discussions, I'm learning things. That's one of the blessings of being a pastor, that as you help to teach others, you may grow as well. One of the things that I've come to realize in this process is this: As God makes us good stewards, God is liberating us from the bondage of our culture. Check out this video that helps to put a visual image to this teaching.
What we're talking about with stewardship is not just nominally saying something belongs to God. We're adamantly admitting that nothing belongs to us. This grinds against the grain of our consumeristic, capitalistic culture. We're told that acquiring things for ourselves makes us good citizens, that the more blessed we are equates to having more stuff. What we own isn't just innocuous matter. It's become the entire goal of our society. We've become slaves to the idols of things. It's a sickness, and stewardship is the cure.
In other words, the only way we can be liberated from the things that dominate our lives is if we stop seeing those things as belonging to us. When we stop seeing ourselves as the gods of our wallets and homes and talents and time, we realize that we're not God. The stuff that becomes so oppressive suddenly becomes evidence of the grace we've received rather than the trappings of a conceited culture. From this position, we can distribute these things, sharing what we have freely as a witness that God desires to redeem this culture.
That's the key. The identity of a steward is wrapped up in the care for and distribution of someone else's goods. Royal stewards care for the kingdom in the absence of the monarch, using the resources of the crown. In the same way, as stewards of God's creation, we are called to care for creation as the Body of Christ here on earth. The stuff that we have at our disposal is not ours, but Christ's. This identity as stewards of God's Kingdom liberates us from the burdens of our culture and frees us to become images of God, witnessing to the grace we've received.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.