We believe that God’s purpose in creating human beings in His own image is to provide creatures who, as resurrected priest-kings, will administer God’s rule in the New-Heavens-and-New Earth and gather the praises of creation to offer up to God’s glory. Until God brings in the New Creation we are called to anticipate this ultimate reality through the Spirit-led, habit-forming, truly human practice of faith, hope and love. In short, our stewardship (the practice of systematic and proportionate giving of time, abilities and material possessions) is the way we gain fluency in the native ‘language’ of the New-Heavens-and-New-Earth, so that we can play our role as ruler-priests when the time comes.
Having created Human in His image as male-and-female, God then issued them a mandate to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28). Some people have argued that the whole ecological disaster now facing us can be traced back to this passage since it gave us carte blanche to abuse earth’s resources. It is certainly true that we have spent much of our history as distorted humanity distorting the world around us, but the answer does not lie in lowering ourselves to the level of other animals or raising ourselves to the level of being our own saviours. The creation mandate still remains, only now it is enacted through the True Human, Jesus (the ‘Second Adam’), who restores our image and who, by His Spirit, equips us to administer our authority responsibly for the flourishing of creation.
When churches talk about stewardship and encourage their members to be better stewards of their resources tempers are raised: (‘who are you to tell me what to do with my time and money?’) and depression descends: (‘I feel so guilty about what I do and don’t do with my time and money!’). This may be because we reduce stewardship to matters of quantity and frequency. If, on the other hand, we see stewardship as the anticipation of and training for the world and the role that awaits us; and if we see all this as our contribution to the flourishing of creation that sings God’s praises, we might just be released to explore, to experiment, to play, to be imaginative and generous with our time, abilities and material possessions.