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Whole Life Stewardship
May 14, 2003
This is the ninth in a series of articles about InterVarsity’s twelve Core Commitments.
Core Commitment #9: Whole Life Stewardship.
We proclaim Jesus as Lord over all creation and culture, striving to integrate faith, life and vocation in serving Him.
Lordship: “We proclaim Jesus as Lord over all creation and culture.” What an audacious statement! As Lord over all aspects of life, we boldly declare Jesus’ authority over everything—nature, ideas, arts, the university, government, etc. We do so on campus, at camps, in publications, at Urbana and through mission endeavors.
On what basis do we make such a claim? In his letter to the Colossians, Paul asserts that “all the deity lives in bodily form” (2:9). Everything – both visible and invisible – is intended to bring glory to Him, the master of creation. All things were created “through Him,” “in Him” and “for Him” (1:15-18).
As such, no human activity falls outside His domain. To argue otherwise, would be to denigrate His Lordship. To punch the point, Paul portrays Jesus as a triumphant Roman general exercising authority over everyone and everything (2:15).
Recently, I reread Robert Boyd Munger’s classic booklet, My Heart Christ Home (IVP). With over ten million copies in print, it has had great impact in aiding readers to better understand what Christ’s Lordship really means.
Munger points out that submission to Jesus involves not a single decision, but a series of daily choices that give Him control over various “rooms” in our lives – the study (mind), dining room (ambition), living room (quiet time), recreation room (entertainment), bedroom (sexuality) and even the hall closet (secrets).
How are we to respond to Jesus’ Lordship? Our commitment to whole life stewardship calls for us to “strive to integrate faith, life and vocation in serving Him.” As such, we are to seek to make His will primary and to serve Him with our whole lives.
As InterVarsity staff, our purpose is not simply to call students to faith, but more broadly, to help them become like Jesus. We want them to mature in their understanding of discipleship, to actively submit to Him and to take the idea of vocation seriously. We want them to become agents of change, well equipped to tackle difficult tasks when they graduate – in business, media, the church, the sciences, higher education, etc.
The initial choice to submit to the Lordship of Jesus is often made in college. Paraphrasing a statement made by former Baylor professor Richard Chewning, the really crucial decision comes, not when a student decides to be a foreign missionary rather than an architect, but when she decides that she will live her whole life in holy obedience; whether that leads to architecture or evangelistic work in Africa is then wholly secondary. The major decision has already been made.
Martin Luther wrote frequently about the concept of vocation. To him, vocation was not defined as a particular job function, but rather about our desire to live integrated lives under the Lordship of Christ:: “A cobbler, a smith, a farmer – each has the work of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops. . . . We should accustom ourselves to think of our work as sacred, not on account of the position, but on account of the faith on which the obedience and work flow.”
As InterVarsity staff, we have a wonderful calling. Seeking to live integrated lives under the Lordship of Christ, we disciple students, who as alumni, will reflect His character to a needy world. May the Lord, in His grace, enable us to submit to Him and serve our students well.