Sunday, October 02, 2005

Stewardship Season and Sunday Evening's sermon (October 2)

It’s that time of year again! And by the looks of things we need it more than ever. Ligon asked if I’d speak on stewardship this evening, which I’m happy enough to do not least because stewardship reflects what is basic to Christian discipleship. Closeness to Jesus is measured by our spirit of generosity when it comes to the kingdom of God. I’m going to address it tonight from a hard-hitting passage in Acts (4:32 – 5:11) where we see both a negative and a positive example of what following Jesus means when it comes to generosity. Barnabas comes first. Everyone should long for his spirit. This is followed by the story of Ananias and Sapphira, a story that hits us hard in the stomach and sends us reeling with shock. God’s holiness is a serious matter.

J. I. Packer, in his book Hot Tub Religion (that’s the British title, and the one I have, which in America is called something else which for the moment I can’t recall) has this to say:

“Only a new quest for heavenly-mindedness, a new depth of self-denying love for our Lord and of hope directed toward heaven, can keep us from being swept off our feet by the quest for pleasure that the world prosecutes so zealously all around us… (p.99).

“For most of [the 20th] century the church, liberal and conservative, in all denominations has been so occupied with this world that minds turned to eternity have been the exception rather than the rule. Sociopolitical, cultural, sporting and money-making interests have dominated Christian minds rather than the laying up of treasures in heaven. A work of reformation [revival] would change that: not by withdrawing Christians from those fields of action, but by radically altering their perspective on what they are doing, so that God’s glory and eternal values would become their chief concerns.” (pp.224-225)

1 comment:

Ligon Duncan said...

Thanks for this great post Derek, and for your message Sunday PM while I was away. I've had a number of people tell me how good it was - but that doesn't surprise me at all.

Now, just fyi, "Hot Tub Religion" is in fact the American title of JIP's book quoted above. The British publisher chose the more decorus "Laid Back Religion" (which spares the readers' imagination the pictures conjured up by the American title!).

Yours properly,