For Such a Time as This: Stewarding Our Relationship With Creation
This week we will gather to finalize and launch the Steward Manifesto. Four writing teams comprised of twenty people have been working for over a year creating a document that we pray will be “a call to our brothers and sisters to reclaim our calling to be stewards of our identity, an identity that is being attacked, confused, and distorted.”
This is my last blog in this series introducing you to this document. In the coming weeks, you will be sent the final version and invited to read it, sign it, send it, and pray for it.
We opened the document by laying the theological foundation based on our four created relationships: with God, with self, with others, and with creation. The final section of the Steward Manifesto focuses on stewarding our relationship with all God created. The section opens with these words.
We were created to be faithful stewards, including our relationship with creation. We do not own this relationship but steward it on behalf of the one who created this world for us. Nowhere are the competing loyalties for our hearts more clearly seen than in our relationship with creation. Within the church we have seen a spirit of ownership and control produce a compromised message that co-mingles Kingdom values with worldly principles, which ultimately places God’s people in bondage. How we view our relationship to time, talents, finances, and the earth itself has a powerful impact on our life and witness as the church of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, here, more than anywhere, we have bought the lie of the enemy that we own what only God owns and control what is His alone. As stewards, we must reject these lies with the full force of God’s truth.
We follow this introduction by naming the lies that tempt us to approach our relationship with creation from an ownership perspective. The lies we choose to believe lead to the church’s reluctance to address stewardship issues, the dismissal of our care for creation as part of our stewardship mandate, and the prevalence of the prosperity gospel.
Having named the lies, we proclaim the truths in Scripture that every second of time, every ounce of our abilities and every penny God has entrusted to us is a stewardship issue, that ‘having dominion’ means to protect, care, conserve, and sustain God’s creation, and that God has provided through His people all of the resources needed to fund His work if we will be faithful stewards of those resources.
We end this section by calling the body of Christ to be bold in preaching that we find our identity in Jesus Christ and not in material things, to not allow the pursuit, accumulation, or false security of money to usurp the place of God in our hearts and lives, and to care for the environment by loving God through valuing the things He loves.
Our prayer is that God may use these statements to help His people steward our time, talents, finances, and the creation itself to His glory.
How about you? Do you see all these relationships through the lens of a steward or an owner? Have you been set free to be used by God in each area, or are you still struggling under the bondage to the need to control, possess and find identity in material things?
Steward your relationship with all God created today and watch God work in and through you in ways that impact everything else in your life. In Matthew 6:19-33, Jesus reminds us of our proper relationship to created things:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy,your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.