The Builder-Developer as a Steward of Godís Resources

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Perry Bigelow - Spirituality of Sustainability Bringing God's Kingdom To the Marketplace and Inner City

The biblical presuppositions are as follows:

Jubilee. God instituted an economic system in Israel that was designed to provide an even distribution of the economic resources necessary to live a Godly life. Although Jubilee rewarded industriousness and penalized sluggardness, there was no way individuals would become excessively and extravagantly wealthy. Part of the plan was a redistribution system preventing any family from becoming permanently impoverished due to economic adversity or individual laziness (Dt. 15; Lev. 25:8-43). Jesus extended this principle further, involving a degree of giving and sharing that can only be fully actualized in kingdom relationships.

Equality. Paul encouraged the churches to practice economic equality (2 Cor. 8:1-9:15) Those who have God's resources are to share so thoroughly and deeply that they run the risk of becoming impoverished themselves (2 Cor. 8:14) as Jesus did (2 Cor. 8:9).

Calling. God has provided a "good work" for every believer to do (Eph. 2:10). Unfortunately many people have been deprived or the capital, training, and personal resources necessary to accomplish that good work. Those of us who are stewards of God's resources must make sure that they are fully shared and that all believers have the opportunity and resource to do the good work God has called them to do.

Gleaning. The principle of gleaning involves providing others with the opportunity to help themselves. In Israel, able-bodied people were to be given the opportunity to provide for themselves from what others produced. The story of Ruth and Boaz is the perfect example of this principle at work.

Justice. God loves justice and hates oppression (Is. 58; Am. 5; Jas.5:1-6).

I used to see myself as a self-made individualist, having come form an economically poor background. I forgot about a loving father who, by his example, instilled in me a positive attitude of hope; a mother who deeply loved God; an older sister who deeply loved me, a brother who counseled me; innumerable friends who stood by me; people who mentored me; and a country of opportunity, a superb educational system, etc. I selected almost none of these; they are all gifts of God through others' investments in me. Except for these opportunities (over which I had no control) I'd be among the poorest of the poor, both spiritually and physically.

God says: Invest in the poor as I have invested in you. I am God's steward of those investments-of those good works. When I see everything I am and have as God's gift and stewardship, and when I hear God shout jubilee, grace, equality, sharing, and justice, I cannot claim any of that wealth for my own; the entrepreneurial and building skills, the networking and financial resources, are all God's to be shared fully with others. It is helping others help themselves so they can help others-like others helped me so I could help others.
I am participating in the cycle of reinvestment and helping to stop the cycle of disinvestment in the inner city, I use investment and reinvestment in the broadest sense to include spiritual, economic, social, institutional, moral, as well as personal time, mentoring, youth development, business and professional networks, technical skills, and any other kind of investment you can imagine. We have the ability and the perseverance to be "seed hope" and "seed capital" to see and opportunity through to completion.

Everything we are involved in in the inner city us a joint venture of partnership with either a church or a church-related community development group. We do nothing by ourselves. We help low income working people build their own high quality, energy-efficient homes. WE provide organizational expertise, seed capital, hope, technical design, construction management, land development, risk taking and entrepreneurial skills, purchasing skills, purchasing networks, and financial resources, but the people are building the homes themselves. We coordinate the efforts of people form all walks of life; accountants, carpenters, lawyers, electricians, business owners, plumbers, and truck drivers. Our objective is to make kingdom resources available to kingdom people.

Perry Bigelow - Spirituality of SustainabilityI make all of the resources of the suburban homebuilding company available to the work in the inner city, except for the employees themselves. Inner city work is not, and cannot be, a condition of employment for the employees, many of who are not believers. However, all of the business networks, technical skills and knowledge, and financial resources, are fully available to be shared.

Conclusion

I walk down life's path continually asking the questions: How would Jesus think? What would Jesus do? I know that I am the workmanship of God and that He has provided a whole range of good work for me to do. All of the good work I do is blessed and is a blessing to me and to others, whether it is designing and building homes and neighborhoods in the suburbs or recapitalizing and rebuilding the inner city, whether it is respecting the image of God and in the incarnation of Jesus' incarnation in decaying urban centers. It is the highest joy and honor to give back to Jesus as much as I can of what He has given to me.

Can you feel their pain, has it touched your life?
Can you taste the salt in the tears they cry?
Will you love them more that the hate that's been?
Will you love them back to life again? (11)

Notes

All Bible references are from the New International Version or my own paraphrases

1. This aspect of Christian faith is best lived, practiced, and written by Tony Campolo in A Reasonable Faith: Responding to Secularism (Waco:Word, 1983), 172-178.

2. Paul uses the same work (kyrios) for earthly master or lord and for Jesus, our heavenly Master and Lord.

3. They are described in 2 Cor. 9:8; Col. 1:10; 2 Th. 2:17; Phil. 1:6; 1 Tim. 2:10, 5:10, 5:25, 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:21, 3:17; Tit. 1:16, 2:7 and 14, 3:1, 8, 14; Heb. 10:24; 1Pet. 2:12.

4. See further 1 Tim. 6:5b-8 and then 1 Tim. 6:9-10.

5. My simple method of daily Bible study involves writing down the answers to three questions: 1) What does it say? This is a paraphrase of the verse(s) that takes into consideration the meaning of the surrounding verses. 2) What does it mean? I jot down what the key words mean, what the key thoughts are, and anything else that I learn about the passage. 3) What does it mean to me? I write down how the passage affects me and what I need to do about it. This is often in the form of prayers of thanksgiving, of praise, and requests for God's help in changing my attitudes and actions.

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