On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 100. Saved II

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15 RSV)

Sometimes I have heard these types of questions about how God works: Why does God put us through the rigor of prayer, study and discipline? Why doesn’t God just write the answer to all things large in the sky so no one will miss it? Why doesn’t God program us to be good, and just, and loving to one another? Why doesn’t God just end terrorism, disease, war, and humans treating other humans badly?

From the time of creation, God has sought out a partnership with humans. He put Adam into the Garden of Eden, not just to lounge around and enjoy the scenery, but “… to till it and keep it.” God calls these partners “stewards.” At the basis of all stewardship, therefore of all Christian and Orthodox life, is that God and human stewards work together to manage God’s world. To God belongs all the resources of creation. To us is given the responsibility to manage these resources.

Yet it is we ourselves who think we own everything. We think that our ever-growing knowledge and sophistication keep us in control. It seems that more often than not, we humans forget our role and purpose for being placed in God’s creation.

The task for humans is quite simple: care for God’s creation. Such care begins with worship and praise in thanksgiving for all that God has given us in His creation. In so doing, humans can begin to work for the betterment of creation without the worry for personal well-being. That’s right! This is what our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ said about that: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. …if God so clothes the grass of the field, … will he not much more clothe you? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all (Matthew 6:25,31,32 RSV).

It is true that one of the ways all the earth’s people are connected is that all of them are partners with God who both celebrate the magnificence of God’s creation, but also in preserving the gifts God gives to us through it. What we give back to God in the partnership is good management. We have been given charge to manage all that God has created and prepared for us. We are the managers. We are, like Adam, to “keep” this new garden we call earth. Yes – that’s right: a manager is also called a steward. Stewardship is the partnership with God to manage ALL that He has given us. It’s still His. 

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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