Church OF Christ: Part 9

  • Read Genesis 2:15-16 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (11 July), you can listen to it here.
  • Follow the rest of this discussion here.

My sermon theme this week is “The Church of Christ should embrace stewardship.”  It’s derived from the logic that if the church (the people) belongs to Christ, then our stuff also belongs to Christ.

As I was researching this topic it occurred to me that stewardship is an underlying principle of God’s relationship with humanity.  It was established at Creation as described in Genesis 2:15.  God created the Garden of Eden for Adam, and then commissioned him to work in it, and care for it.  God gave Adam the garden, but God didn’t give up ownership.  He also gave Adam responsibilities along with the gift.

Adam was to “take care” of the garden (NIV).  The NLT translates the instruction as “watch over it”, while the CEV reads, “and look after it”.  No matter how hard he worked, Adam could never claim that he created the Garden.  He was caring for God’s property.  He was God’s steward of the Garden.

As I thought about this, the importance of this responsibility struck me.  Many of the central tenets of the Christian faith only exist because of The Fall.  Without sin, there is no need for grace, or mercy.  Forgiveness becomes redundant when there’s no offences.  Corrective discipline didn’t exist in the Garden.  Although these are wonderful blessings that we receive from God, they would be unnecessary in the absence of sin.  They were not part of God’s pure Creation.

God’s initial design for Creation included: Creativity; Love; Tenderness; Order; Beauty; Intimacy; Worship; Work; Productivity; and Stewardship.

I’m not sure of all the implications of this distinction.  Are elements of God’s original design somehow more holy or sacred than post-Fall blessings?

However, if we regard history as God working to redeem humanity from the consequences of the Fall and to restore His relationship with humanity until it culminates in a new heaven and a new earth, then restoring God’s created order assumes some additional importance.  Somewhere close to the core of our relationship with God, we find the principle of stewardship.

The first and obvious application is that God expects humanity to care for creation.  That was God’s initial intent for Adam, what makes us exempt from it?

Most discussion I’ve heard concerning stewardship revolve around our personal finances.  That’s certainly an appropriate application, but stewardship doesn’t start and stop with finances.  When we say “Amen” to James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” then we’re also undertaking to serve as stewards of those gifts.  Let me close by listing a few examples:

  • Gift: The Gospel  Stewardship: Go and make disciples… (Matt 28:19-20)
  • Gift: Freedom  Stewardship: Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature… (Gal 5:13)
  • Gift: Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)  Stewardship: …keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:25)
  • Gift: Forgiveness  Stewardship: Shouldn’t you have had mercy… just as I had on you? (Matt 18:21-35)

I have just two questions for you today:

1. Are values/principles that we see demonstrated pre-Fall, more significant to us than those introduced to us as a consequence of the Fall?

2. Can you add some examples of Gifts & Stewardship to the list I started here?

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