As I was working on this new stewardship program, I began to wonder if anyone outside the church even uses that word any more. Does “steward” or “stewardship” let us off the hook? It’s like when a preacher starts using that sanctimonious voice, you know s/he isn’t saying anything that will be useful on Monday.
It is a shame if that is true, though (about the word steward, I mean). I think the message behind the word is pretty amazing. What it really means is that God has decided that all divine actions on earth will be done through YOU.
You and I are not the creators or owners of life. All we have, even the breath we breathe, has been loaned to us to be used while we are here. What is amazing is that we are able to decide how every breath and every moment and every dime are used, for good or for ill. Although I have no doubt that God is hoping that we will use the life we have been loaned to do good while we are here, we still get to decide. That is what it really means to say you are a steward.
You and I don’t really OWN anything. We didn’t bring anything with us, and we won’t take anything when we go. In the meantime, though, we have been loaned an awful lot to enjoy and use. The Owner not only gave us free use, but decided that the only way good was going to happen on earth is if we use what we have and who we are for good. Oh, I know we all secretly cling to magical thinking, but God made you a steward, caretaker, trustee of it all. You cast the only vote that matters if God’s good is done through you or not.
If we really understood or believed this then we would think that God letting us use 90 percent of what we are loaned for ourselves is remarkably generous. I believe that, right from the start, God was thinking that if the Spirit could get humans to use just 10 percent of their time, money, and breaths for good that is all that would be needed. The world could be fed, healed, clothed, and educated, and there would be peace. Insisting that we keep it all is the delusion of those who still secretly think they can take it with them when they go.
And, NO, I’m not going to take an offering.