Long, long ago: before there were microwave ovens and laptop computers, before there were 401K’s, Junk Bonds, or money market accounts, before there were cars and houses, there was nothing. Now when I say nothing I mean nothing. When most people hear “nothing” they think if a desert or wilderness. But that would be something. I mean there was nothing but dirt and a mist rising from the ground. And God reached down and grabbed up a handful of red clay. Then God threw the clay on a potter’s wheel and began shaping something. Finally when God finished shaping it he looked at it and sighed a deep sigh and breathed on it and it came to life. And God clapped his hands and said, “Ha Adam” which roughly translated is “Rusty, my man!”
God realized that Rusty needed a place to live. So God planted a garden on the earth. The garden included every kind of plant that God could create: mosses and herb, fruits and vegetables, and flowers of every sort and color. There was even a tree of forbidden fruit but that is the subject of another story.
Then God said, “Rusty needs something to do. A way to make a living for himself.” So God handed Rusty a rake and said, “You are my chief gardener. You will tend my garden and care for all the plants I have created. And you may eat of the fruits and the vegetables except for that one I told you not to.” And the world was perfect and life was wonderful – at least for a while.
All of Christian doctrine has its roots in the book of Genesis. That is why when I wanted to talk about stewardship, I started with the second chapter of Genesis. We talk about “Stewardship” in the church but most Christians don’t know what we mean. When people hear the word “Stewardship” they think about giving money or more specifically tithing. And that is part of stewardship, but stewardship is much more. In a sense tithing is a symptom of good stewardship not stewardship itself.
Put simply stewardship is the belief that all we have belongs to God and we are merely caretakers or stewards of things. Rusty, better known to us as Adam, didn’t own the Garden of Eden. It was created by God for him, but it was still God’s. Adam was merely its caretaker. He was supposed to tend the garden, but he was also free to take whatever he needed from it.
Stewardship is more than just a concept. It is more like a state of mind. Good stewardship is a discipline. It is not achieved over night but one grows to it by steps.
The first step toward good stewardship is to acknowledge that everything belongs to God. In other words we have to surrender all claims of ownership. For instance most of you came from homes this morning and drove to church in cars. That house and that car don’t belong to you. You might say, “Yup preacher they belong to the bank, I just make the payments.” But even when you have that loan paid, it’s still not yours. You might have some cash in you wallet or pocketbook. It’s not yours either. You might have a checkbook. The money in that account isn’t yours.
This is a hard step to take. The concept of “MINE” is one of the first concepts we learn. In a young child’s mind everything I want is mine. If I see another child playing with a toy I want I holler “Mine” and grab it. As we grow concepts of “Who had it first” or “Who has the deed” limit our concept of “mine” but it still remains. I mean we throw people in jail for violating our concepts of “mine.”
This step means throwing the concept of “mine” away. There is no “mine.” There is only God’s. Once you have surmounted that obstacle good stewardship is only one step away.
The second step is to recognize that we have been given the privilege of using and caring for God’s things. If we stop before this step, then we would all have to take a vow of poverty. But God has all this stuff. We look around and there are neighborhoods full of houses. Look out the window. A lot full of cars! Feel in your pockets. Change! God can’t just leave us all homeless and penniless. So God let us use His stuff. We drive His cars and use His money to feed our families and live in His houses.
They are ours to use but they really belong to God. We are merely caretakers of these things. So we are not free to do whatever we like with them. If your friend leaves town as says you can drive his car while he is gone, you are supposed to take care of it. If you don’t and wreak the car because of carelessness, then you are a bad caretaker.
So good or bad stewardship is a function of how we use and care for all the thing God lets us use. How do we use our cars and houses and money and time? If we use it in ways that honors God: meaning if we support God’s work and do God’s will, then we are Good Stewards.
FARM TOWN: facebook. Some of you have invited me to join you in playing this game.
Premise: You have a plot of land, and you rely on one another to care for the farm..
i don’t have time every day… i don’t rely on my friends and neighbors..
I have not learned the balance of spending, sharing, helping, and waiting…
so my farm is dead more often than not.
God’s Garden is not a game, it is the real farm, entrusted to us for its care… God’s accounting….
But let’s not forget Rusty, uh Adam. He is a model for God’s plan for our place in this world. God placed us on this earth to enjoy his gifts and give him glory. The problem is that we begin seeing it as our earth not his. As long as we view ourselves as caretakers placed in this garden, then we can get off the concept of MINE and move on to “God’s.”
We are the creation of God. He made each of us from the dust of the earth and breathed into us the breath of life. Then God placed us in a garden so we could live and grow. Sure our garden is different:, we have some of the same things: flowers and fruits and vegetables. Even some forbidden fruit. But we also have microwaves and laptops and cars and houses.
And God lets us use these things. But the bottom line is that it’s all God’s. We are only the caretakers of God’s possessions. And the earlier we acknowledge that then the easier tithing and stewardship and all of life will be.
As a way of helping to plan, especially in these times of lean and the unexpected, we are asking each other to make/renew commitments to tend the Garden together.
…..to do so, we are drawing on the tradition of the pony express. that once delivered the mail, to be an inter-dependent way of gathering our commitment cards:
Bag: Start Wed. PM at fellowship Dinner, bags due back Sun 5/10/09
Cards: Indicating your commitment.. (even if it is to check, I don’t do cards)
Envelops: Sign on the outside, seal it
Bag: Deliver it to the next person on the bag…
Team that gets the bag back first, completed, get’s lunch for the whole
team, (disclaimer, not on Mothers Day)