Series: Creating a Culture of Generosity
4. Servants of Christ and Stewards of God’s Mysteries
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
Pray: As we are reconciled to you, teach us how to share the message of your good news. Amen.
Think for a moment about what it means to be reconciled. How are we reconciled to God? What does that mean? What does reconciled mean? Consider your checkbook. When the bank statement comes, do you reconcile your checkbook? What does that mean? Well, we pull out the register and the statement and check to make sure everything equals out. And if anything is not matching up, a part of reconciling is correcting mistakes. So in a faith context, when scripture tells us that we are reconciled to God in some ways it means we are corrected, whether that is our path or our behavior, we are changed for the purpose of being in deeper relationship with God.
This season of Lent I have been preaching a sermon series called Creating a Culture of Generosity. For six weeks we are engaging issues of and best practices of stewardship. This is week number four and so far none of the topics have been about money. That is not to say we won’t talk about money, it is simply to say that being a good steward of money is only one part of being a good steward. In our first week we discussed the stewardship of keeping the Sabbath and God’s message of abundance. God’s model of time is that there is enough work from six days to give room for one day of rest and delight in God’s creation. In our second week we talked about God’s expectation that we will treat our bodies as temples of the holy and take care of them as a tool necessary for ministry. When we don’t care for our bodies, it negatively affects our ability to care for others and our ability to participate in worship, thus the stewardship of self-care. In our third week we learned about the stewardship of practicing Biblical Radical Hospitality. Our welcome is not simply something that starts at the front door, but it should be one that runs out to meet the stranger and invites them to be one of our family. This week we are looking at being stewards of the gospel.
This concept of being stewards of the gospel was new to me as little as a few weeks ago. However when my stewardship class began to set the foundation of stewardship as a lifestyle, as a way of living in all things, being stewards of the gospel made perfect sense. As little “d” disciples of Christ we were commissioned to go out and fish for people, to make disciples in all nations, to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The gospel is a gift from God and is a tool in ministry to teach us more about growing deeper in relationship with God and to use in teaching others about God.
I’ve said it before in this series; money, evangelism, throw in politics and those are probably the three things people most don’t want to hear about from the pulpit. Well two of those three, are areas where we are struggling to be faithful, so I must bring them to the pulpit.
I will leave money for another Sunday, but this morning we are talking about being stewards of the gospel with which we have been entrusted. We’ve talked about telling our stories, and practicing telling out stories. We’ve talked about growing. We’ve talked about being better at hospitality, and we made some efforts in that area. We’ve talked about inviting people to come on Sundays. We’ve talked about the joy in the experience of coming to be together and how good it is to spread that joy. We’ve even worked a little on serving outside our doors. We’ve given away water. And we’ve talked about and avoided doing evangelism for a long time. We’ve got some good excuses too. The thing is we have to stop thinking about evangelism as being something that is inauthentic to who we are. We are entrusted with the gospel to share it. It is who we are.
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a parable about three servants who are entrusted with talents while their master is away. Two of the servants invest the master’s money and make him more. One of the servants buries the talent in the ground afraid to risk losing it. And when the master returns he punishes the servant who buried the talent because he did not work to make it grow. What if instead of money, this parable was about the gospel? What if the gift we have been given and entrusted with to share is the gospel message that all are welcome, that all who repent are forgiven, and God’s grace is bigger and more faithful than any of us can imagine, that the Body of Christ is alive an well and serving the least of these in Jesus’ name? How might it change our attitude about evangelism if this were the message?
In 1 Corinthians 4:1 the Apostle Paul tells the church, “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.” Servants of Christ and Stewards of God’s mysteries. And when we are doing this, acting as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries it will be a sign that we love God. You see we don’t become good stewards because it is what we are supposed to do. We become good stewards because we ultimately love God and we want to give God our best, in the same way we want to give our children and nieces and nephews and grandchildren whatever they want because we love them. In that same way, we become stewards of all of God’s good gifts because we love God and it makes God happy and we love watching God be happy.
In our passage from this morning the Apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth about the gift of reconciliation. Through ‘Christ God reconciled the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.’ Because Christ gave his life, we are forgiven and made right, we are a part of God again, through Christ our brokenness can be healed, our sin is forgiven, and our life with God is eternal. Why would we ever let that message end at our doors? This is not a confidential meeting. We are sharing the gospel! If your life has been changed by Christ Jesus, become an ambassador for Christ and a steward of the gospel. You will be amazed at what God can do.