Stewardship Spotlight – Manifesting the Image of God
September 24 2019
In his book, Free of Charge, Miroslav Volf writes that there are two irresistible false images of God that we run between: God the negotiator and God the Santa Claus. Instead of the image of God as a purposeful and generous giver, the negotiator God can be cruelly disappointingly or the Santa Claus God becomes our self-absorption writ large. Neither image, negotiator or Santa Claus, challenges or calls us to imitate the joy and the goodness of God the Giver.
Increasingly, you find four words stenciled beside the storm grates: “we all live downstream.” Selfishly (and sometimes we have all started at this point), we read into those words “I am the catch basin downstream so make sure only goodness is flowing my way.” But, more ecologically and theologically correct, is that we are all midstream. If we are made in the image of God the Giver, we are a channel not the catch basin of God’s good gifts. We are not the final destination of the Creator’s gifts.
When we allow God’s gifts to flow through us we emulate God the giver. When we emulate God the negotiator, we move from an economy of generosity to an economy of extraction. How can we cut the best deal? Or when we emulate Santa Claus is our magnanimity enabling insatiable desires and unaccountable behaviors because we cannot be bothered to be involved. Being involved with purpose, joy and grace is why it is so difficult for us to give and give well.
Again, when we allow God’s gifts to flow through us we emulate God the giver. The gifts we give are not gifts that must be extracted from us or given for our exaltation but are gifts from God that have flowed through us. We are participants in something larger than us. God’s giving began before us and will continue long after us. We are invited to participate in this generosity of spirit, love, and self. Our participation reflects the generosity of the initial giver who set grace in motion. Our lives show the image we have of God.