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Theology of Engagement By Dr. Zenet Maramara

A Steward’s Engagement With the World

The transformational role of the steward leader—in the church, ministries, and the marketplace—requires an understanding of the theology of engagement or the theology of public life as Charles Matthews calls it (Theology of Public Life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007). It is not just limited to direct political action but includes everything concerned with the public good. Such a theology of civic engagement provides the reason a steward leader must seek shalom in this world.

Besides promoting the quality of life of the community, shalom involves wholeness and the total well-being of the people. That Christians are called to participate in the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ lies at the core of one’s calling as a steward leader. “We can know God through engagement with the world and we know the world through deepening engagement with God,” Mathewes argues.

Theological reflection and praxis enhance the integration of our faith and action. It provides the balance of our being and doing.

Immanence and Transcendence of God

God’s simultaneous immanence and transcendence affirm his sovereignty over creation and at the same time God’s personal involvement in the affairs of daily life. Such dynamism offers Christians a way to understand themselves by participating in these divine purposes in the world.

Embracing this theology clarifies that the life of the Christian is a form of participation in Christ and the continuing work of God in creating, redeeming, sustaining, and consummating. It implies an active engagement in the created order so that the work of the steward leader becomes truly meaningful and anchored in the divine plans and purposes.

Engaging with All of Creation

Creation ceases to be the mere background of redemption that will be discarded in the last days, but rather plays an important part in it. The Steward Manifesto declares:

We reject the lie that the earth will be destroyed at the end of the age, so it is not worth caring for now, that the Biblical teaching on dominion gives license to abuse, destroy, or wantonly disregard the creation, and that God’s only goal is the salvation of the soul, denying our full stewardship responsibility.

The Steward Manifesto further states that how we view our relationship to time, talents, finances, and the earth itself has a powerful impact on our life and witness as the church of Jesus Christ. We have bought the lie of the enemy that we own what only God owns and control what is His alone.

Not A Life of Escape

St. Augustine declares that sin is an attempted retreat into privacy, which Matthews calls escaping from God’s presence, and subsequently becomes an escape from one’s neighbor and even from creation. For the redeemed person, such an escape is impossible because, despite humanity’s fallen nature, God’s grace continues to bring people back to a relationship with him, with others, and with the created order.

How we steward those basic relationships—with God, oneself, others and the rest of creation becomes a continuing upward journey of the steward whose destination is Jesus Christ.

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Dr. Zenet Maramara is the founder/president of Christian Stewardship Association and the chairman of Christians in Conservation, an A Rocha associated project. She was a professor of biblical stewardship at Asian Theological Seminary and former director of the ATS Strategic Leader Development. She organized and directed the MBA in Biblical Stewardship and Christian Management program of ATS.


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