Members of One Body
As we move through our stewardship season this year, we’ve been promoting some of the stories of service from within our church family. Rebecca with Family Ministries, Trent with Get on our Lawn and Joan with the Food Closet. There are many more ministries we could have highlighted. The point is that our giving to the church and the stewardship of our lives is about the whole of who we are and is not simply a matter of dollars and cents.
I appreciate the metaphor that Paul uses in his first letter to the Church in Corinth. He describes the church as a body - where each member of the body has its own role to play. Not all are eyes; not all are hands. It takes each member of the body fulfilling its own unique role for the body as a whole to function properly. So it is with our church family - each of us is different and we each have been given different gifts and abilities. So the contribution that each of us makes to the whole is as unique as we are. If each of us live into the vocation that God gives us to serve one another in the way that we are gifted, then the whole body of the church thrives.
As we think about how God calls us to serve the church family (not just with our treasure but also time and talent) the key word for us is generosity. In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth he says that we should not give ‘reluctantly or under compulsion: for God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Cor. 9:7). Here, he is talking specifically about money - but he could equally well be talking about other forms of contribution to the body. He might have said ‘don’t serve reluctantly or under compulsion... God loves a cheerful volunteer...’. We serve hoping for praise or status - for psychological reward; or we might serve out of a sense of duty or obligation; or perhaps for personal fulfilment. I don’t suppose any of those is really terrible. But serving out of a cheerful heart - generous with our lives in response to a God who has been generous with us - grateful and living just to please the One who loved us and gave himself for us? That has to be more rewarding, more fulfilling, more life-giving than the previous options. God has freely given to us; our response is free and generous living within the life of grace and the gifts the Holy Spirit gives.
All of this is set within an understanding of ‘stewardship’ that tells us that everything we are and have comes from God. It all ultimately belongs to Him. We are just ‘stewards’ - managers - of what has been entrusted to us. Whatever we ‘give’ - of time, talent or treasure - belonged to Him anyway! And so our giving becomes worship - as it reminds us of who is at the center of our lives and where we ascribe worth in our daily expenditure of our love and labor.
I’m proud to belong to this church family of Good Samaritan. I’m looking forward to our commitment Sunday where we will each have the opportunity to bring forward our pledges for 2020. But my pride in our church family goes way beyond that. It extends to the hundreds of volunteers in our church family - each a separate member of the body, each differently giving, and each transformed by Christ to love those around them in unique and particular ways as God has gifted them.