|Each year in a previous church I served we designated one Sunday as Stewardship Sunday. When the music director and I would get together to plan the service for the day, we had a standing joke between us: ďDonít choose any hymns that nobody knows. This is the one day of the year when we canít afford to make anybody mad.Ē |
I understand why some pastors bring in a visiting preacher to deliver the annual Stewardship sermon. Money is a touchy subject, and some pastors think itís safer to let people get their feathers ruffled by someone they will never see again.
But Iíve always thought that was a cop-out. In the Gospels Jesus talks more about money than any other subject except the Kingdom of God, and sometimes he deals with both at the same time. The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts is solemn testimony to the early churchís struggle with economic ethics, and much of what Paul says in his letters wrestles with the place of money in discipleship.
These days you and I cannot go ten minutes without bumping into some financial issue. Itís all over the news, woven into every conversation, and written into the worry lines of millions of faces. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we cannot ignore this. We cannot claim to be following Jesus and avoid the most significant challenge to his words, ďNo one can serve two masters.Ē
|Hereís one thing Iím going to do. Beginning October 2nd I will begin a series of sermons Iím calling ďBeing a Disciple When the Economy Stinks.Ē I hope these messages will spark some serious conversation, and maybe even soul-searching, as we consider our giving to the church, and our financial responsibilities as a church.|
Please donít expect me each Sunday to give you biblical principles for money management. Long ago I stopped trying to press the scriptures into a program for personal or corporate success. And donít expect me to sort through issues like taxes, stocks, debt ceilings, or government bailouts. Iím not an economist, and I donít have a word from ďon HighĒ about such matters. Besides, I donít know what most of it means.
However, I am a student of the Bible, and I try to make Jesus central to my life, and I will try to put our relationship with money into that context. Perhaps itís time you and I based our monetary decisions less on what we hear on Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN, and base them instead on the one who said, ďLove the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.Ē
Some analysts say weíre entering a new world economically. Perhaps you and I can help each other enter the world we should have been inhabiting all along.