The whole church only works with people who are committed to what we are doing. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to become an integral part of Circle of Hope right when they enter the community, nor does it mean that there isn’t room for skepticism and questions, but it doesn’t work unless there is a core of people that is actually being the church. It’s better when there is more of us, but there are people who are heavily committed to our movement, who don’t often take credit for it, and who don’t wear their commitment to Jesus’ mission on their sleeve like a badge of honor. They know their reward isn’t a worldly one.
The piece of lore that I want to work with tonight is called “All our money belongs to God.”
And in the United States we can’t really measure intensity without looking at our bank accounts. Following Jesus is about completing submitting everything in our entire lives to him. We aren’t our own anymore. We are bought, bought with a price. Paul say this when He’s telling the Corinthians to submit everything they have to God, even their bodily desires.
It’s all God’s, and because of that, we have to submit to a transformation of ourselves. We all need this, and it’s not just personal, the whole world needs to be transformed too. When we talk about radical faith, it’s internal, external, but also infiltrates the evil powers of the world too.
We are free from our worldly patterns, and we are to set others free of their slavery too. Paul says to the Romans that we are free of our slavery to ourselves. We no longer have to be afraid, worries, anxious, nervous. We aren’t just serving ourselves anymore. We are slave to righteousness, slaves to Jesus. It isn’t about personal rights or liberty, that is slavery; we are now doing something else.
And for us, we aren’t slaves to our money anymore either. We’ve submitted that to God too. The result of people not submitting their money to God, frankly, has resulted in some of the worst economic disparity the world has ever seen. This isn’t just a Western problem, of course, it seems to me like in Jesus’ day, the same was also true.
Jesus calls disciples, who are tied to their family businesses in a way that we probably can’t imagine, to follow him. It’s not just a matter of business, it’s a matter of honor. The sons of Zebedee were probably doing their part in a centuries-old family business. Same with Peter and Andrew. These disciples dropped it all for Jesus and submitted everything to follow Jesus.
There are many things that we hold on to because of our own honor, because of family expectations, because of pressure. The question for us today is how do we do that with our money. What gets our priorities? Savings? Bills? Loans? Making sure you have enough money to get to happy hour? What is Jesus asking you to go of? What are in your nets?
The mentality that all our money belongs to God is elemental to our movement. It’s not about paying bills, it’s not about making sure I get a check, it’s not just about ten percent we give to community members that are in need or the ten percent we give to other organizations, either. It’s about you. It’s about being free of your money. If someone could bankroll our whole church, I’m not sure we would take it; we want disciples who are giving of themselves.
The rest of saying goes something like this, “the percentage we share in our Common Fund reflects our mutual commitment to be an authentic church.” It’s about being generous with our resources, it’s about relinquishing the power that money has over us, it’s about being a slave to righteousness. And it doesn’t just deal with our money; our time, love, and heart matters too.
Work out what it looks like to be generous with your resources, but actually do your part in our mission too. We want to be authentic. All of our money belongs to Jesus; and we need to mutually share it with the common fund to be a real church.
Jesus wants more than your “tithe” though, of course. It isn’t a tax. The government takes your taxes, Jesus is doing something more.
Jesus was being so subversive, so counter cultural, so revolutionary, the Jewish leaders around him were consistently trying to jam him up. You can check out the final scene here in Mark 12.
In a famous passage, Jesus is asked about paying taxes to Caesar Tiberius. His response is crucial because in these questions are so divisive, so dichotomous. Today, the church gets asked to rule on such issues all the time.
Jesus responds by saying, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
Jesus’ main point is to give Caesar the money on which his image is carved. If indeed, the image of God is carved into our lives—since we are created in His image—Jesus’ coded response to his followers is to give their wholes lives to God. That’s what we mean when we say all our money belongs to God.
Jesus cares about total submission to him, and today the evidence that that includes our money is obvious, right? This week try being generous when the going gets tough and you are in a financial difficult spot. See how God meets your needs. Try to actual budget your money and see what you actually value. See if God is calling you to let go of it. Let him turn over the tables in your life and be motivated to do that in the world. Don’t try to be perfect, but rest in Jesus. Give him your whole self.