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Is Your View of Money Gnostic?

June 30, 2009

Many of us have a gnostic view of money. Community is good; giving is bad. Missi0n is great; money evil. Prayer and Bible reading are truly spiritual, business, finance, and administration are sub-spiritual. This is not a biblical view of the world. We were baptised into one faith and one Lord who is both Creator and Redeemer. He is lord of the physical and lord of the spiritual. To quote Rob Bell, “Everything is spiritual” for God.

Gnosticism and Creation

Gnosticism is a dualistic philosophy that exalts the spiritual over the physical, the eternal over the ephemeral. Paul wrote against it extensively in the New Testament, warning Christians not to degrade the physical in the name of the spiritual. Gnosticism divides the Creator from the Redeemer, failing to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and concern with everything he has made and is remaking. Money and music are just as spiritual as praying and reading your Bible, at least they should be. The problem is that many of us have unknowingly smuggled gnosticism into our faith. We have divided the Creator from the Redeemer. We worship God for and with the intangibles of prayer, singing, meditation, counseling, praying, and service, but refuse to worship him with the tangibles of money, music, film, literature, shopping, houses, cars. We insist on our own lordship over the created realm, over the tangibles.

Gospel and Gnosticism

Some of us need to repent of our dualism, of seeing God as sovereign and concerned only with our piety and not with our pocketbook. Some of us need to redeem our view of money with an understanding that the Gospel redeems consumers to spend, not just “spiritually” but practically. The Gospel holds creation and redemption together in Jesus. Hebrews 1, Colossians 1, John 1 all tell us that all things were made through and in Jesus. He holds creation together; it is important to him, enough to die for it and restore it. Jesus will return to restore and renew all things, as Lord of creation. The gospel compels us to see money through the lens of worship, through the lens of the gospel.

Worshipping Jesus with our Money

Our money should be governed by the gospel and move towards mission. But that is uncomfortable. We would rather live with the comforts of unspiritual spending, than invest our whole lives into the mission of God. Our idols of comfort, clothing, and standard of living hide beneath our functional gnosticism. God is calling us to repent and believe that Jesus is Lord over our entire lives, finances included, to bring us into a life of joyful giving and worship.

As I write this, Austin City Life is approximately 55% self-supporting, and our outside support is in decline. We have had public church gatherings for just over a year, though we existed in decentralized form for a year prior. We are experiencing gospel renewal, radical community, and growing mission. But is Jesus Lord of our finances, our budget, our discretionary income, our savings? We need to consult our hearts and our spending patterns to find out who really is lord of this part of our lives.  We also need more financial support, to be a community that loves with our giving and not just with our being.

Pray. Repent. Give. Love. And enter into the joy of obedience to Jesus as Lord, and of full participation in his mission. For Jesus, everything is spiritual and nothing is gnostic.

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