I recently came across an interesting article about excavations in Pompeii, the site where Mt. Vesuvius erupted nearly 2,000 years ago. The blast of heat and dust caused immediate death for thousands of people. The ash that covered them eventually provided a kind of hard cast around the bodies. Archeologists recently uncovered a villa in which two men lay near to one another. The article shared that archeologists believe one of the men was wealthy. His bones were strong and healthy, and fibers of his clothing tell the tale of someone who lived in luxury. The villa might well have been his own. The other man’s body, while younger, showed signs of a hard life and labor, revealed by looking at his bones and compressed spine. It might well be that he had a life of pain during his servitude. Quite possibly the younger man was a servant in the elder man’s household.

Young and old. Rich and poor. In an instant those distinctions were obliterated. The rich man’s wealth could not protect him nor lengthen his time on this earth. The poor man may or may not have been satisfied with his life, but no matter. Death made them equal in a heartbeat.

The gospel we believe is also equalizing, but it is good news. Grace is for the rich or poor, the young or the old. It covers both instantly and forever. It does not deny life’s fragility, nor does it shy away from the hope of resurrection life. We see it in Christ, who died for all, and who offers resurrection life for all. The grace of Christ makes no distinction.

Stewardship is the ordering of our lives around the truth of Christ’s grace. We do not hoard for riches. We do not ignore the crushed bones of our neighbors. We do not act as if the world exists more for ourselves than for others, nor do we act as if the world exists more for our church than for others. Each time we find ourselves being small, protecting our tiny kingdom, or drawing distinctions of worth between self and others—then we know we are not being good stewards.  Especially, when we see our treasure become part of our closed down view of life—we know we have work to do.

When one trusts grace there is renewed attention on how our time, talent, and treasure all conform with what Christ has revealed to us. When one trusts the gospel there is an easy and confident way to our living that actually enjoys being a giver of this amazing grace.

The volcano of 2020 erupted, and still for a while its viral lava will flow down chaos and death. Few have escaped its effects. 2021 gives us a new opportunity to learn the old lessons of faith. Now is the time to embrace life. Now is the time to protect less and share more. Now is the time to live as instruments and ambassadors of Christ and His resurrection.

Glenn HowellWould your church like help building stronger stewardship? Our Foundation is here to help. Give us a shout here or 877-391-8811.

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Glenn Howell
Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana