Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This month I want to share with you an article from our LCMS website. May it be an encouragement to you to live your life with free and joyous activity both inside and outside our congregation.
Christian stewardship is the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God’s family, the church, in managing all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes. Many people may argue that Christian stewardship is more about following laws, rules and instructions than it is about free and joyous activity.
Historically, believing and living as Christians has also been more about laws, rules and instructions than it has been about a free and joyous way of living. On October 31 we will join with Christians around the world in celebrating the 494th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. In the years leading up to the reformation some serious false teachings had crept into the basics of the Christian life and faith so that people felt like they were slaves to all kinds of rules and regulations. Christianity was not very free and joyous. The good news of being saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for our salvation, was in danger of being hidden from God’s people. Jesus died so that we might have life and have it abundantly and joyfully. One of the key passages that opened Martin Luther’s eyes to the true way of salvation was, of all things, from an Old Testament book. He found it in Habakkuk 2:4a: “The just [righteous] shall live by faith!” [NIV]
This discovery led to a new and refreshing way to look at the contents of the Bible. It is easy to find all kinds of laws, rules and commandments and get the idea that if you want to be right with God you must obey all of these laws, rules and commandments. The problem is that because of our sinful natures we are not able to keep all these laws, rules and commandments and are pretty much left with the options of either trying harder or giving up. Neither of these options leads to a life that is free and joyous.
The Bible contains all kinds of laws, rules and instructions for our Christian living, but these laws, rules and instructions are not written for the purpose of saving us. Rather, they drive us to the good news of salvation through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Forgiveness of our sins frees us from past failures and opens up a new way of living. “Don’t you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” [Romans 6:3-4 NIV]
Through Christ we are freed from “have to living” to move toward “get to living.” What a refreshing freedom for us to live godly lives not in order to be saved, but because we have been saved.
Truly, God’s redeemed stewards, in cooperation with and encouragement from fellow redeemed stewards, freely and joyfully manage all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.