Friday, December 30, 2005

Stewardship and Sovereignty

It is an amazing thing that God should entrust the works of his hands to us. This world rightly inspires awe and wonder; yet God has put the world and its creatures into our hands (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8:6-8). He has also assigned us stewardship or management of our homes and families, our possessions and our days. In many places God's relationship to his people is portrayed as that between a landlord and tenants from whom he expects good management, or between a master and servants to whom he has entrusted his business.

Since mankind generally rebels against God, our being in charge has been more of a curse than a blessing. In the account of man's fall -- whether you take it as allegory or as literal the point still remains -- God had already given mankind dominion in this world, had already made us in the image of God; but we were greedy for more. We didn't want dominion under God, but dominion instead of God, free from God, in place of God. When power is no longer exercised in recognition of God's dominion, power itself becomes corrupted, as they say that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.1 But it was not power that corrupted us; we corrupted it. We have developed ideas of power and its use that are alien to God. We imagine that power is used to exalt the one who has power, that the glory of the powerful is to always get his way at the expense of others. The lords of the Gentiles lord it over them. But not so with us. The great will be a servant, and the greatest will be slave of all. We know this because the Lord of All laid aside all the trappings and benefits of power to save us; he taught his disciples about being a Lord -- the true Lord, the Lord of Lords -- by dressing in a towel and washing feet. Christ keeps finding ways to get through to us. His humility and love humble us and point us the right direction about managing our trusts under God. More could be said about using our trusts in service of others, in reverence for God, and in a shrewd way ...

More in a related post about the parable of the talents: God's Investment in the World.

1 - As a case in point about how even our ideas about power are twisted, I remember a definition given me in a college sociology class: the amount of power that Person A has over Person B is the amount of resistance on the part of Person B that can be overcome by the force of Person A. Seems reasonable until you see the Lord of Lords washing feet. Then you start thinking in terms of the amount of power Person A has to help Person B, or befriend him, or otherwise be some good to him.

1 comment:

codepoke said...

But it was not power that corrupted us; we corrupted it.

Amen. Well put.