Issues - Materialism
John 2:15-17, the Apostle John writing:
“Don't love the world's ways. Don't love theworld's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everythingthat goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself,wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates youfrom him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. “
I wonder what you think is quite possibly one of the greatest challenges to the ChristianDisciple standing alone and being faithful to God in the twenty-first century? I want topropose to you that this threat is the temptation of materialism, or to be materialistic.This is where following Jesus’ command to follow Him, take up the cross for ourselvesbecomes practical. This is where loving God and loving others becomes difficult.Materialism grips both the Church community and also Christian Disciples if it is allowed.Eschewing and casting off materialism will see Christian Disciples who are radical by thevery society, which we are trying to win for Jesus.
What is materialism?
Every person has in differing quantities: possessions and money. These things, in and of themselves, are not evil. It is however our reaction and attitudes toward them thatcauses us to be seduced in this area. Materialism is a reliance on possessions, moneypeople or even the church, as our ultimate objects of trust, instead of God. The ApostleJohn writing in 1 John 2v16 gives a very accurate picture of materialism:
“lust of theflesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.”
That, brother and sisters, is materialism!
A Particular Sin
If there were to be a particular sin that marks our generation, especially in the West,then it would be this sin of materialism and the worship of money, objects and people.Every day hundreds of thousands of people die from lack of food, water, clothing andshelter. For each of us in the West, these things are taken for granted. When we feellike a change of house or location, we just move. The whole Christian community is onethat reflects the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. The Church is to be a communitywhere the strongest members support the weakest members. Where one member of the Christian community suffers and hurts, the whole Christian community suffers andhurts! This applies not only to the local church in a local community context, but also tothe universal Church and therefore has a national and international context as well. Toooften as Christians we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where thebare necessities of life are in sparse existence. Too often we gather possessions andpeople, instead of giving up our time and money generously to help the poor and needyof both our local and global communities. When one member of the universal body of Christ is hurting, the whole body hurts!
As Christian Disciples living in the world of the twenty-first century, where wealth is seenas a sign of success, the cult of celebrity is rife and where family, morals, ethics,community and God have taken a back seat, how should a Christian Disciple respond tomaterialism? A lot of Churches measure their success solely by the number of membersin the congregations or by how much money goes into the offering pot each week.However, not just good things grow. Islam measures its success on the so-called growthin those who would consider themselves a Muslim. It is probably the fastest growing