Monday, March 13, 2006

"Sure, I'll manage that for you . . ."

It's unfortunate to me that the word that best encapsulates current evangelical teaching on money is 'stewardship.' I totally dig the reasoning that God owns everything, therefore, I must steward his stuff, not mine. However, we're running by a few steps that Jesus camped out on. I think it's fair to say that whenever Jesus talked about money, he talked like he was talking to a group of addicts. As always, I'm open to hearing some disagreement on that point, but I don't think the guts of his message was "steward it"; the guts of his teaching seems to be "put it down, and then take my hand." Now, what happens when you tell a group of addicts to 'steward' the object of their affection? . . . Something very similar to what we have now in American churches, I think. Of course, our whole lives become an issue of stewardship (being a good, trustworthy servant) eventually, but we've got to give up 'stewarding' our very lives before we're even a student of Jesus (again, according to Jesus). The first issue that must be dealt with, and repeated as necessary, is our white-knuckle grip on our lives, our dreams, our cash. Jesus' counsel is not to steward it, but to lose it, and follow him.

I know this has big implications. But the first issue to be dealt with when it comes to money isn't stewardship or tithing, but attachment, at least according to Jesus.

8 comments:

Dan McGowan said...

The older I get (and man I'm getting old) the more I have come to realize just how true this is - but, true or not, the REAL issue (which you touch on) has to do with LIVING this reality - which leads me to by 64 thousand dollar question...

How?

T said...

Dan,

Thanks for the comment. I think there are several ways to approach genuine transformation into Christlikeness (which necessarily will deal with our addictions to money and other sources of security and insecurity), but a common thread will be an honest and somewhat scary encounter with Jesus' wholistic, love-me-more-than-everything (including yourself) invitation. He's got a lot of those kinds of statements, trying to pull us from our lives, to have his life. According to Jesus, this is a necessary beginning place for every follower. People who realize that they have to recover from an addiction in order to live (AA & others) have figured this out and embraced it. Others are more reticent. "How hard it is . . ."

As a result of your comment and some things that are going on in my community, I'm going to be posting on some "how's" shortly that I've heard and/or been a part of. Of course, there's always Jesus' internal and external cold turkey approach, and he offered more than once. I will say, though, that my "how's" are going to be consistent with the gospel Jesus announced, which I've talked about in previous posts. "God's government is here, reconsider your current plans and trust this good news." The parts of us that don't like that announcement are the parts run by masters not wanting to be de-throned.

Dan McGowan said...

Hey, that's cool! Post the "hows" and let's see if people begin to put two and two together... seriously. Every preacher, Every sunday gets up and tells everyone to live different cuz that's what the Bible says and that's what God wants... people nod their heads, take notes and examine their hearts. Then they step out of the pew and it's like they've suddenly left a ride at Disneyland! The experience and encounter are left behind as they race for the snack bar...

Okay, I'm getting far too analogy-minded for my own good...

Looking forward to these next few posts...

Anonymous said...

...me, too. I'm looking forward to them.

Thanks for this post, too. I had *never* thought of this issue in that way, not the way you put it. I love that.

Brant

Anonymous said...

I just had an "aha!" moment, T. I think you hit it with the addiction analogy/not analogy. In that light, "stewardship" is laughable...

Carolyn

pck said...

maybe i've lived more of a charmed life than i've thought. almost all of the teaching i've had on stewardship - whether from my folks, or from the pulpit, or a seminar - all starts with the idea that all of it is God's, and that we have to drop all of it.

i hear you though, and i love the addict thought. that's really good.

Jeff said...

Exactly !

T said...

pck,

I agree with your experience; I've had much the same experience, and like I said, I dig the concept. I just think we're generally premature to be jumping into stewardship when the addiction has not been properly dealt with or even seriously acknowledged, at least not as seriously as Jesus acknowledged. Our way of dealing with money in the church is perfectly designed to get the results we're now getting.