Steward Faithfully Week 1 Lent Course Luke 9.10-17
Today is the first Sunday of Lent. During Lent we are going to be looking at some of the most important foundations of our Christian faith and see how they affect our lives in really practical ways. This week we are going to look at how God has called us to take responsibility for caring for the world he has made. God is amazingly generous. He gave us this glorious world to live in and enjoy.
God calls us as his sons and daughters to look after and be stewards of his creation.
I’m going to begin by looking at the generosity of God in creation.
- God gives us his creation to enjoy. God is the creator of our world. Our world is not here by chance. God chose to make our world and he chose to create us to live here and to enjoy it. The gospel writer John boldly tells us this at the beginning of his gospel.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
God made our world. He is the creator. The bible was written over many, many hundreds of years, but it is not a random collection of ancient writings that has haphazardly been put together. It is an integrated whole. The different books have been written by different authors in different ages but all of the bible is written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The scriptures are God breathed. So John in his gospel is connecting in with the writer of Genesis. At the beginning of the bible, the writer of Genesis goes into more detail about the creation. He tells us that God saw what he had made and saw that it was good. When God made human beings in his own image God saw that it was very good.
It’s important when we read Genesis not to get caught up with trying to read into it things that are not there. The writer is not trying to tell us the mechanics of how the creation came into being. It is not a scientific treaty. The writer of Genesis is telling us who made our world-God and what his purposes were for it.
God enjoyed his creation. He is a God who loves order and beauty. The design of the world is not an accident. It is based on the will of God. God loves his creation. Over and over again, we see God pause at the end of each stage of creation and look at what he has just done. Each time the bible tells us, ‘And God saw that it was good.’ Then when he had finished creating absolutely everything, the bible tells us in Genesis 1.31 ‘God saw all that he had made and it was very good.’ God was pleased with it. He was even pleased with human beings!
God enjoyed his creation. We see him at the beginning of chapter 2 of Genesis resting on the seventh day and blessing the day and making it holy.
God places human beings in the middle of his creation and invites us to enjoy it. We see this in the covenant that God made with the Israelites at Sinai following his rescue of them from slavery in Egypt. In Exodus 20.8-11 we see God calling his people to observe a Sabbath day. It was a day to rest. A day to do no work. A day to enjoy. A day to remember their redemption from slavery and the Lord who had saved them.
God invites us to enjoy his creation. As we look around us, we see the beauty and extravagance of God in the gift of his creation. Sometimes our breath can be taken away by the beauty of a sunset. Our kitchen window faces west in the rectory, and day after day I am awed by the beauty of the sunsets in Hampshire. Again and again, as I see the beauty of our countryside, my heart response is to thank God for the beauty.
The psalms are full of rejoicing at the wonder and beauty of God’s creation.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
The psalmist responds with wonder and praise when he sees the beauty of God’s creation.
What about us? As we look at and enjoy God’s creation, is our response is to thank God and praise him? Or do we rather take it all for granted?
- God gives us his creation to enjoy. God also gave human beings the responsibility to care for his creation. We see this in Genesis 2.15 ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’
God is very generous. He has given us his glorious creation to live in and enjoy. He also gives us the responsibility of looking after it. To be stewards who care for and protect this gift. You and I collectively share a responsibility for God’s creation. God intended us to exercise this responsibility in the context of relationship with him.
We look around us today and see all sorts of things that are not good. We read of ecological disasters and see men and women in relationships that exploit each other and the environment that we live in. As we read on from Genesis one into chapter three we read about how human beings rebelled against our creator God. This had the effect of not only disrupting our relationship with God, but of disrupting our relationships with each other and with the physical creation.
The creation is not all that God intended it to be. In many ways it is broken. The apostle Paul describes it in his letter to the Romans as groaning. The good news is that Jesus came not only to bring salvation to human beings but salvation to the whole cosmos. Paul says in:
Romans 8.21 ‘the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom and glory of the children of God.’
As God’s children, we are called to join with Jesus in bringing in his kingdom and this includes the way that we care for and manage the creation.
Each one of us is responsible before God for the little realm that we have a say over. Some of us might have a big influence. We might be in charge of a large government department, a large company or a charity. Others of us have a smaller influence which will extend to the people we mix with at work, our friends, our families and maybe other parents we spend time with. All of us are going to have some influence on the physical creation. Not many of us own large farms or large tracts of land, but all of us make decisions all the time that affect the physical environment whether it’s doing the gardening, making a planning application to extend our house, choosing the food we buy in the supermarket or feeding the cat.
- Generosity is at the heart of God. We see his generosity in the gift of the creation. We see it again and again in God’s character and actions in the bible. Supremely we see it in Jesus and in the kingdom he has come to bring. Jesus calls us to be like him and be generous with the gifts he has given us.
The bible reading that has been chosen for this week is about generosity. Luke describes how thousands of people had followed Jesus to Bethsaida and Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God and healed the sick. In the late afternoon the disciples suggested to Jesus that he should tell the people to go to the surrounding villages to find food. Jesus disagreed. He said to the disciples, ‘You give them something to eat.’ The disciples gathered together a meager five loaves and two fish-not much to share between five thousand men and their families. But Jesus calmly asked the disciples to arrange for the crowd to sit down in groups. He then took the loaves and the fish and gave thanks to his Father in heaven. He then gave them to the disciples to share amongst the people. There was more than enough. Everybody ate and had their fill. At the end of the picnic the disciples gathered up the leftovers and filled twelve baskets with bread.
There are many, many wonderful things about this story, but the one I would like to focus on is the generosity of God and how God calls us to be generous with the gifts of creation that he has given us.
The disciples didn’t have very much. A few loaves. A few fish. But they were willing to give what they have to Jesus. They were willing to share what they had with the people who were in need of food. Jesus took what they had and multiplied it many times over.
Jesus calls us to enjoy the gifts he gives us in creation.
Jesus calls us to look after and steward the gifts he has given us.
Jesus calls us to share and be generous with all that he has given us. When we do that, he will bless the gift. We will be blessed in giving and we will bless those we give too.