Friday, October 26, 2007

This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land

I sit out on my porch and survey the land around me. I feel a sense of pride over the improvements we have made with our house and land over the 9 years we have lived here. I think of the camping rule - always leave the campsite cleaner than you found it. That is how I see my house. Yes, officially I am a homeowner. But is it really mine? Or is it my campsite? Is it where I am stopping for rest and rejuvenation along my journey?

My daughter often takes a deep breath when we arrive home. She tells me that the air at our home is fresher than other places. It is comforting. It is ours. It is our place for rest and rejuvenation. But is it ours?

God created the heavens and the earth. He created everything we see here today. He created the materials that we use in the construction of our houses. And then...He created us. Not long afterwards, we stepped in and started claiming ownership. But is it ours? Or are we merely the stewards?

We hear so much about being a good steward. Be a good steward of your money. Be a good steward of your resources. Be a good steward of the earth's natural resources. So, what is a steward anyways? Webster defines stewardship as "the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care". Wikipedia defines stewardship as "personal responsibility for taking care of another person's property or financial affairs. "

So, a steward is someone who MANAGES something that BELONGS TO SOMEONE ELSE. I think it is very important that we grasp that everything in our 'possession' doesn't belong to us. We don't own it. It is not ours. Our house, our land, our computer, even our family, belong to God.

Every night, when we say prayers as a family, I thank God for the family and friends that God has given me to share my time on this earth. As dearly as I love my children, I do not claim ownership of them. It sounds weird, but I assure you that if you really grab hold of the idea that your children are not yours, but merely entrusted to your care by God, it WILL change forever your relationship with them. My husband and I were entrusted to each others care by God himself. Neat huh?! I see it as just another bit of evidence that God loves me dearly.

I think that once people allow this simple fact to sink in, it will really change the way they see things around them. It really starts to chip away at the 'mine versus yours' train of thought. You can really spot people who have begun to grasp this concept. You see them as natural 'givers'. I had a friend come up to me and ask me if I had a digital camera. I said yes, and they said 'is it a really nice one?' Seems they were given one, and found they really didn't need it, so they thought they would pass it along. It was in someone else's possession within minutes. Another friend, enjoying fellowship at the home of another, commented on a big glass jar 'where can I find one like that? I love it.' The hostess said 'right here' and handed it to the admirer.

I see things like this daily! This train of thought is at the root of Koinonia Community. Mi casa es su casa (my house is your house). You have a need? I can help with that. I have a need. Thank you so much for your help.

Acts 2:42-47 NLT

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[a]), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[
b]—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

I believe that if God has entrusted us to manage things for Him, we must be efficient managers. We must make sure that our books stay in the black, so to speak. We must keep a low overhead. What better way to do that then to share resources with other managers?

I was reading a book about debt free church management recently. It spoke of wasted church resources. Apparently many churches go into severe debt for the construction of a building. A building that sits unoccupied for much of it's existence. Think about it - Sunday morning services, maybe Sunday and Wednesday evening. Let's say you have choir or praise team practice on Tuesday evenings for a couple hours, and maybe a Thursday evening men's group and ladies group. Let's say you are a very active church and have a singles group and maybe even something for the youth on Friday nights. Your building would still sit vacant for all of Monday, 20+ hours on Tuesdays, 20+ hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, all of Saturday, and maybe 16 hours of Sunday. Some churches try to balance it out by leasing out use of facilities, usually for a minimal donation, to other groups and organizations. Wouldn't it be neat if more than one church could SHARE a facility?!

What about us? How many of us have a truck in our household, just for those instances when we need to haul stuff? How about a lawnmower? We use ours two hours a week (if it doesn't rain) for all but about 4 months of a year. The rest of the time is sits idle, gathering spider webs. How many of us have a garage full of tools, which we need and use, but only occasionally? What if we could pool our resources and have a truck at our disposal, a lawnmower (we could get a better one together), tools, etc. that we could SHARE. We may even, inadvertently create opportunities for fellowship. 'You need the truck to go pick up some lumber? I need some shingles. Why don't we go together.' or 'You are using the tools to work on your car? I need to change my oil. Why don't I help you get finished quicker, and you can help me. And as an added bonus, sharing resources makes us better stewards or this environment we were given to manage - fewer vehicle emissions, fewer items to fill landfills, etc.

It is my desire to be a good steward of everything God entrusts to my care. I don't always make the right choices, but I have found that the better job I do managing, the more he blesses me to manage. Jesus gave us some management training in a few of the parables he delivered to his listeners. See Matthew 25:14-30 to read the Parable of the Talents, Luke 16 to read the Parable of the Shrewd Manager, and Luke 19:11-27 to read the Parable of the Ten Minas. Jesus thought it important to instruct us on the finer points of management. Maybe we should not only store these teachings in our heart, but start putting them into practice. Now, managers, lets go out and change the world!


Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Our former church is going 3.5 million in debt to build a new, hip, state of the art, "worship center" that will be over 30,000 square feet.

Not only scripturally wrong to go in debt to do it (or so I think) but also ridiculous to pay to heat and light that thing for use only a few times a week.

I'm no longer a home "owner" and have grieved that a bit---as you know. We live in a country that tells you that home-ownership is the key to the good life. Only, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it is a big anvil hung around the neck if you're in over your head.

Thank God that I have HIM, who truly owns EVERYTHING! I have a home not here, but above!

Starr said...

Natalie, I really enjoyed readin that. I feel the same way. I wish we were neighbors! Anyway, thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts with us.
Love and blessings,