This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. – 1 Corinthians 4:1
In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is writing to clear up misconceptions within the body and to unify the church and give them guidelines for how apostles were to see themselves, as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” The letter was written because worldliness was seeping into the lives of believers and causing divisiveness where there should have been unity and love. Seemingly, it is a letter even for the church today.
I read this passage last January and it has been on my heart ever since. It was like a personal invitation for me to seek Christ in every aspect of my life — to steward all of my resources and gifts to make Him known, and to serve Him by laying down my life for the gospel.
The phrase that immediately caught my attention when I first read this passage was “steward of the mysteries of God.” I’m not sure I have ever used anything close to that terminology to describe my responsibility to share the Gospel with the world. I think most would agree that our faith lends itself to many mysteries, not limited only to the fact that Christ died for us, but also that He came to Earth as a baby and lived among us as the Son of God and Son of Man. We are not the owners of these truths, but stewards, and stewards are responsible for looking after things for someone else.
Continuing in verse 2, he calls on stewards to be faithful. Faithful to the One who called them, and to the pure message of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. Faithful in communicating that truth to a broken world. And faithful in living out the call Christ has on each of our lives.
The other part of this is being a servant of Christ. Christians go out into the world on His behalf. It’s a privilege and a joy to carry the message of freedom to others, but there are definitely times I lose sight of that fact because I lose sight of Christ's sacrifice made for humanity on the cross.
But how is this a post for the season of Advent? I believe that Christmastime gives us the perfect opportunity to dwell upon and share one of the most outrageous parts of our story — the birth story of Christ. It is also the perfect time of year to serve others in extraordinary and life-changing ways by being present, sharing gifts, practicing hospitality. During the days leading up to Christmas, we can sharpen our sensitivities to the Spirit’s leading in expressing our faith in tangible ways to our family, friends, and neighbors. And hope that these sensitivities will carry on in the new year ahead with life-changing results.
It is a season for celebration, certainly. But I have also been struck this year that it is a season for earnest reflection on my own heart’s bent — am I walking in the call of both servant of Christ and steward of life-changing truth? Or am I simply living for myself and hoping God will bless whatever endeavours I want to be about — regardless of whether it is what God desires for His glory and my good?
Perhaps these are not questions we want to consider along with a chorus of Jingle Bells, but they are important nonetheless, even whilst we are sipping on our hot cocoa or gathering for Christmas parties or creating seasonal sweets.
So how do we live as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God? Small steps of faithfulness in our everyday can lead to tremendous heart-change over time. I would say the first step is to orient our thinking in a way that our identity is first aligned with being a follower of Christ and everything else can come after that.
My prayer for you, friend, is that in this season and in the New Year to come, you will take the call of servant and steward even more seriously than ever before so that the gospel is declared, and Christ exalted. Amen.