Stewardship: Whereas Means Its A Given!
Consistent with its mission statement, the Stewardship Commission of the Diocese presented a proposal to the XXII Sobor/Council in Johnstown. The mission statement says: Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a Christ-centered lifestyle, which acknowledges accountability, reverence, and responsibility before God. Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a call to all of the faithful to share willingly and cheerfully the gifts that God has bestowed on them including sharing these gifts for God’s work in His Church.
That unanimously approved proposal begins:
WHEREAS Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a Christ-centered lifestyle that acknowledges reverence, and responsibility before God; and
WHEREAS Orthodox Christian Stewardship teaches that all the faithful are accountable for the life, health, time, talents, and resources that God gives them; and
WHEREAS Orthodox Christian Stewardship calls on all the faithful to share the gifts that God bestows upon them thankfully, willingly, generously, and cheerfully and to set aside a portion of these gifts for the life and mission of the Church.
A “whereas” by definition means something that is agreed to before a proposal is even offered. Thus, in this proposal, each of the “Whereas” statements is a given for Orthodox Christian stewards.
After all, who is a Christian steward? A Christian steward is someone who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with all, and returns them with increase to the Lord. This definition of a Christian steward, rooted in biblical and Church tradition, corresponds with God’s decision to entrust to humanity the universe He has created and with Jesus Christ’s famous parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
For disciples of Christ – everyone who responds to Jesus’ invitation, “Come, follow me” – Christian stewardship is an obligation, not an option. Correctly and fully understood, Christian stewardship holds every individual accountable to God and therefore applies to everything – all personal talents, abilities, and wealth; the local, national, and worldwide environments; all human and natural resources wherever they are; the economic order; and government affairs. This stewardship does not tolerate indifference to anything important in God’s world.
Why is the “stewardship lifestyle” so important to the Christian disciple?
Every parish and disciple should make education and formation for stewardship a major priority. This is vitally important today because it helps disciples, families, and communities better understand what it means to follow Jesus in an affluent, consumer culture, and it establishes an appropriate, scriptural basis for responding to the Church’s growing need for human, physical, and financial resources.
The important words in the above “Whereas” statements are “lifestyle,” “accountable,” and “share.” These words are little different from what the Orthodox Church expects from each of its baptized and chrismated members. Each of us live an Orthodox lifestyle which is accountable in all respects to God and the Church, and is a lifestyle that in thanksgiving results in sharing the blessings given by God with all who are in need.