Drug Money for Church
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’.“ Genesis 14:22-23
In the population I work with, it’s not uncommon to meet those who believe in God but who’ve also gotten caught up in the life of dealing drugs. Raised to believe that they’re supposed to give part of their income to church, they continue to do so, despite the source of that income. Maybe it’s out of obligation, or maybe they’re hoping to buy some absolution, but they routinely give some of the money they’ve made by selling drugs to their church. This raises an interesting quandary – If the church knew where the money came from, could they accept it? What if it was a million-dollar gift and what if everyone knew where it came from? No church would want to turn down a million dollars, but neither would any church want it to be known that they were funded by drug money. A church can and should reach the lost, but it shouldn’t benefit financially from their criminal activity. For the sake of integrity, certain boundaries must be maintained.
Abram displayed appropriate boundaries in today’s passage. In the story, he rescued his nephew Lot, along with the people of Salem and Sodom, from an invading enemy. Salem’s king graciously thanked Abram, blessing him and God. The king of Sodom though, brusquely demanded his people back, admitting that Abram could keep the material plunder from Sodom. Abram refused, returning everything belonging to Sodom to him. He didn’t want anyone to think that he’d gotten rich off Sodom. Sodom was an evil city and Abram wanted nothing to do with it, remaining unwilling to benefit financially from them.
Appropriate boundaries are necessary with any relationship, particularly when we’re attempting to help those who’re struggling with self-destruction behaviors. Boundaries don’t mean that we can’t be involved with those who’re struggling. It just means we must always be protective of our own integrity. Meeting with other alcoholics at a coffee shop for a Bible study is vastly different than going to the bar with them. Befriending someone who deals drugs, sharing the love of Christ with him, is very different than letting him buy you that cup of coffee. Being supportive to the one struggling with mental health is very different than getting caught up in the emotional turmoil ourselves. When we get close to others, we must always share Christ’s love, while taking precautions so that their destruction doesn’t become our destruction.