By Melchizedek M. Ponniah, Vice President, Adventist World Aviation, Berrien Springs, Michigan
Summary: Stewardship summons the disciple to a deeper experience of godliness and godlikeness.
Pointing to the widow placing two copper coins into the offering box, Jesus taught a poignant lesson--that discipleship is dynamic stewardship. He said I tell you the truth, this poor widow has . . . put in everything she had to live on (Mk 12:43,44). This short narrative is integrated into the larger story of who Jesus is and what it means to be His disciple. For centuries this widow’s act has served as a powerful paradigm for Christ’s disciples. By giving all she had to live on, this unnamed widow responded to Christ’s call to take up one’s cross daily and follow Him (Lk 9:23). Only a man . . . totally committed in discipleship can experience the meaning of the cross--Bonhoffer. Discipleship demands total commitment of all we have (our resources) and all we are (our total self).
Jesus summoned the rich young ruler to model this dynamic stewardship. He said ?Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad (Mk 10:21, 22). The rich young ruler stands in stark contrast to the poor widow. In giving away his wealth, he would have removed the only obstacle that kept him from true discipleship.
As true disciples of Jesus, we express our trusting relationship with Jesus by being good stewards of our time, talent, and all that is in our domain--our total lifestyle. Stewardship and discipleship are inextricably tied together. At the 1999 International Consultation on Discipleship, John R W Stott called attention to the ?strange and disturbing paradox’ of the contemporary Christianity situation: ?We have experienced enormous statistical growth’ he said ?without corresponding growth in discipleship. . . . God is not pleased with superficial discipleship.’. . . Tokunboh Adeyemo pointed to the same paradox on his continent, where the phenomenal numerical growth of Christianity is matched only by the mind-boggling butchery of Christians engaging in the horrors of ethnic cleansing. ?The church in Africa,’ said Adeyemo, ?is one mile long, but only one inch deep.’--Christianity Today, 43:12, 1999, p 28.
Stewardship summons the disciple to a deeper experience of godliness and godlikeness. In the Tamil language, the word for Christian literally means he/she is a Christ. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:4,5). Yes, a disciple of Christ must be concerned about others and the world around him. Yes stewardship is inclusive and demanding--but that is discipleship.