The Protestant Reformation blurred the lines between the sacred and the secular. Protestants saw all life as sacred, which meant that material things took on spiritual significance. Building barns was now part of doing God’s work, rather than merely menial labor with no redeeming qualities.
This switch was a good thing in many ways. The Catholic Church of the Dark Ages made people aware of the fact that they would burn in hell apart from involvement in the Church. Therefore, most of what man did was worthless to God, what God really wanted was for you to drop some coins in the coffer.
Distinctions between the sacred and the secular predominated. Protestants did us all a favor in showing us that we are to do all things heartily as unto the Lord.
With all the good that came of this switch, bad came too. People did begin to think that digging a ditch was equivalent to reading the Bible. Making money became synonymous with spirituality.
Protestants are known for their work ethic–work hard, save money, and live comfortably.
Walk through a few hundred years of human history and you have American Christianity, which is only respected when it looks suburban, wears modest yet fashionable clothing, and drives nice cars, puts on good shows at church and has top quality music.
We’ve bought the lie and turned it into spirituality. We’ve become entangled with the affairs of the world and called it “being relevant.” We’re looking and working for the things that are seen (which are all temporal) and are forsaking the eternal things that are not seen.
When people are dying they wish they didn’t work so much and they wish they had deeper relationships with others, yet most felt good their whole lives because they were living out the “Protestant work ethic.” Isn’t that what Jesus wanted us to do?