God is not a janitor.
While His overflowing grace and unlimited patience mean that He cleans up and sets in order the mess of our lives, His grace does not mean that He is satisfied with maintaining things as they are.
He is not a status quo God.
Neither is He a rewardless God who gives us an incentiveless faith.
I am not talking about eternal life here, or the unconditional love of God.
I am talking about abundant life, and the rewards that await us in heaven.
They are not unconditional. There is a 'well done' that awaits us.
In Matthew 25, Jesus describes God as a risky investor in the parable of the talents.
He is a risky investor who fully expects a return on his investment in us.
In fact, the way Jesus describes God in this chapter is quite demanding!
He owns what He entrusts to us, expects us to steward it well, and return it in better state than it was first entrusted. He is pleased when we do that, and not very pleased at all when we don't.
Our whole way of living changes when our vocabulary changes from 'give' and 'own', to 'entrust' and 'steward.'
The good news is that He is a generous and gracious Master, as well as a risky Investor, and if he expects a return on what he entrusts to us, we can be sure that He gives us the means to do that.
God is not so impressed with what He first placed in our hands. We get very impressed with that. "That person is so gifted!"we remark. Or, "They are so smart."
I get more nervous when I see someone who has been entrusted with much, because to whom much is given much is required.
God is impressed with what we did with what we He invested in us.
This frees us from comparison, and stirs us on to faithful, yet risky stewardship.
It frees us from an overly cautious approach. The cautious servant was called a 'wicked lazy servant'!
Stewardship applies to the gospel, finances, people, knowledge, or influence. God fully expects a return so that he can entrust us with more.
Its the main motivation for why we as a community are moving to double morning services in February. It is not about expansionism. God has been a generous and risky investor in us and we want to be faithful with that. Growth is normal in His kingdom. Both quality and quantity growth.
God's grace to us all as we move from maintenance to stewardship.