Rector's Blog: No Such Thing As Secular
Last Spring, I preached a sermon about the political implications of the Gospel. It was, I have to tell you, not my favorite topic. Talking about divisive things in the church makes me squirm, and what’s more divisive than politics in our current climate? I’ve personally heard people preach or teach horrendous, dehumanizing things in Jesus’ name and I bet you have too. We don’t want to see Jesus be dragged through the partisan mud, and we don’t want the holiness we experience in shared Christian community to be co-opted by any one person’s political perspective.
But in the end, my argument was simple: If you are a Christian, Jesus is Lord of every part of your life. No part of you is exempt from belonging to God. No aspect of your existence is separate from your experience of Jesus. If God has incorporated you into the very Body of Christ and you are a member of that Body, you don’t get to tell God to look the other direction while you vote, and you don’t get to pretend that Jesus was going to save your soul without actually effecting the way you think and move and participate in society.
In short, for the Christian, nothing is secular. Everything is connected to God. Our faith is not an extra-curricular activity – it’s at the core of our being.
For the last month, I have been writing about your money and your relationship to the Church. What’s more uncomfortable than talking with people about politics in the Church? Right. Money. But I’ve been convinced that the conversation about how you give to the Church isn’t just necessary: It’s life-giving. It’s empowering and energizing.
I’ve already told you that I love talking with you about giving to the Church, because it’s a conversation that is rooted and grounded in Love. God loves you unconditionally. Your church seeks to embody that magnificent love. You love your church and recognize that it has an impact on your life. And I’ve told you that your giving makes a practical difference to Redeemer, and your commitment to give makes a difference in your heart and soul. Your financial commitment, grounded in the love relationship between you and God as lived out in beloved community, changes you, and it changes your church. When you add this all up, it points to a very simple reality: Your money is inextricably connected to your spiritual life.
Our money and how we spend it is not compartmentalized, cordoned off from the rest of our relationship with Jesus. This is a world where everything was created by God, where everything was redeemed by Jesus. Your money is no different. It’s a part of your spiritual life. Your budget is a moral document. The way you spend your money is a reflection of your values and priorities, and these are informed by your relationship with Jesus, your relationship with your church.
Recognizing how money is connected to our spiritual life is a healthy way of taking some of the fear and discomfort from the conversation. We begin to see our gifts (to the Church as well as to other organizations) as spiritual activities – acts of empowerment and blessing that remind us of how connected we are on every level to the things we love.
In the end, I will always be ready to talk with you about money and the Church because I will always be ready to talk with you about your spiritual life, about your heart and soul. I want to be like Jesus. I want to love every part of you who you are and support you in your life in Christ. And I want you to know what it means to fully participate in a worshiping community that knows Jesus and grows in love. I believe your financial commitment to Redeemer is essential to full participation in our shared life, and I pray that you will believe that too.