Making God Pay
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5
I’m occasionally approached by a recently sober addict or alcoholic who is looking to build a new financial life, and he plans to do it with sober housing. The scheme usually involves buying and fixing up a few old houses and turning them into homes for those living in recovery. This individual has done some calculations and thinks there’s money to be made in sober housing, but he needs someone to invest the initial money, which is usually why he’s talking to me. I’m a physician and therefore I represent a possible source of capital for his money-making venture. He believes that he’s doing a good thing by creating sober housing, but he’s also looking to make a profit, therefore his intentions are mixed. Admittedly, his only motive isn’t just the good of others, but also the good of himself.
In today’s passage, Paul warned against mixing our own self-interest in our work for God’s kingdom. Our cause is to be Jesus Christ. We are his servants and whatever we do, we must do it to truly promote the gospel and not ourselves. When we attach other interests to Jesus, we fool ourselves into believing we’re doing good, while we’re still just living the old life, pursuing our will. When we do this, we try to use God to get what we want. I’ve run the numbers and I think I can profit from my faith.
It isn’t always this blatant of course. It’s often so subtle that we often don’t even realize we’re doing it. Maybe we believe that one political party is more aligned with our faith. Then, our faith becomes associated and intertwined with that party’s views. Our faith can and should affect our world view, but when we find ourselves arguing that Jesus stands behind low taxes and big business, we’re now promoting our cause and using God’s name to sell it. As Paul warned though, our cause must always be Christ.
When I attach my interests to God, I return to the old life, pursuing myself while calling it faith. I also risk repelling others from knowing Jesus. If, in my blog, I promoted one political party, I’d risk turning half of the population off. This is something of which I need to continually remind myself. My cause isn’t the environment, Covid-19, or low taxes. My faith may affect how I see those things, but my cause is Christ and everything I do should be done to lead others towards him and not myself.