You are on page 1of 4

Materialism/Consumerism

Memory verse: mark 8:36 for what shall it profit a man, if he shall
gain the whole world, and lost his own soul.
Scripture: Matthew 19: 16-26
Lesson in a sentence: How we look at our possessions (past,
present, future) is a test of our commitment to Christ or to the world.
The big picture: Like the rich young ruler, each student has a
decision to make regarding their “stuff” and Christ. As Americans,
most students in any group would be considered rich by the world’s
standard.
C.S. Lewis said,” Nobody who gets enough food and clothing in a world
where most are hungry and cold, has any business to talk about’
misery’”.
Jesus understood that the ruler would be seen as a good person by his
outward appearances, but his loyalties (which cannot be seen as easily
as other behaviors) were not to Christ and the scriptures. Jesus and his
disciples had no homes, and the disciples were sent out with no extra
possessions (Luke 9:1-6). To follow Christ, the man would have to be
willing to give away everything and live in community with these other
men, with no financial security. He would have to make the same
decision that Matthew had, when he gave up his security to follow
Jesus.
Jesus knew this young man would have to be willing to give up his
identity as a rich man to become a follower of Jesus.
Each of us has a similar decision to make. We must ask ourselves if our
identity is wrapped up in the stuff we have, the security we have, the
money we have (or hope to have one day).
If it is, then it is possible to follow Christ.
Focus
In the film Mosquito Coast, starring Harrison Ford, from 1986.
Ford says” we eat when were not hungry, drink when were not thirsty.
We buy what we don’t need and throw away everything that’s useful.
Why sell a man what he wants? Sell him what he doesn’t need!
Pretend he’s got eight and two stomachs and money to burn, its
wrong, wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Discovery:
Read Matthew 19:16-24 as a whole group.
Ask: for students to give their opinions of Jesus’ challenge to this
young man. Ask: “Did this seem fair?’ Ask: “why do you think Jesus
asked this man to sell everything?”
Have you ever bought a cola or snack in a machine? Have you ever
had the snack get stuck on its way down? You stick your had in there
and feel the snack. However you cannot remove your hand with the
snack. It is stuck. You have a decision.
You can either hold on to the snack and stand there all day, or you can
release your hand, leaving the snack behind. Jesus saw this young man
like the person unwilling to release the snack to free himself. He was
holding all he owned tightly and refused to let go of it. He would be
unable to join Jesus’ followers as long as he held tightly to his
possessions. Jesus did not give this requirement to everyone, but he
saw this young man putting his identity and loyalty in these
possessions. Also, if he chose to be a disciple of Christ, in the context
of Jesus’ day, he would have no place to sleep and could have no ties
to keeping him from his task. Jesus knew this man’s possessions would
be his alternative god.
Jesus knows money and possessions can have a tight grip on each
person. He wants each person to hold these possessions with a loose
grip, able to drop them at any time if they get in the way of the
person’s relationship with Christ.
Regarding v. 24, there has been some debate regarding this verse.
However, all agree that the main thrust is that a camel is the largest
animal in Palestine. The contrast is powerful the largest thing must go
through the smallest opening. This is impossible. An interesting point
for us may be that if it is so difficult for a rich man to enter heaven,
then we should hold our possessions loosely, so we may not have the
difficulty of the rich young man. Jesus said in Luke 12:15 “and he
said unto them, take heed, and beware of the covetousness: for a
man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he
possesseth. Remember Matthew 10:34-39.
Lif is more important than material goods; far more important is our
relationship with God. Jesus says that the good life has nothing to do
with being wealthy, so beware of covetousness (greedy desire for what
we don’t have). This is exact opposite of what society usually says.
Advertisers spend millions of dollars to entice us to think that if we buy
more and more we will of their products, we will be happier, more in
tune, more comfortable. How do you respond to the constant pressure
to buy? Learn to tune out expensive enticements and concentrate on
the truly good life-living in a relationship with God and doing his work.
Side note: back up back up: in chapter 12 v.1 Jesus says “beware ye
the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy”. What are the signs of
hypocrisy? (1) Hypocrisy is knowing the truth but not obeying it. People
can say they follow Jesus, but not be obedient to his word. (2)
Hypocrisy is living a self serving life. People may desire leadership only
because they love position and control, not because they want to serve
others. (3) Hypocrisy reduces faith to rigid rules. People can end up
worshiping their own rules and regulations about what they think God
wants instead of worshiping God himself. (4) Hypocrisy is outward
conformity without inner reality. People can obey the details but still be
disobedient in general behavior. For example, a person may carefully
tithe his income but be rude and obnoxious to his class mates or co-
workers. Many non-Christians use the supposed (or real) hypocrisy of
Christians as an excuse to stay away from God and the church. Look
carefully at your life. You are not perfect; therefore, at times ad action
or behavior might provide the ammunition for someone to label you a
hypocrite. However you must discern your own heart. Consider the
signs of hypocrisy noted above and make sure you are not guilty. Then
ask God to help you live rightly. NOTE: Jesus spoke on money and
possessions more than any other topic, according to the New
Testament. Of the 38 parables, an astonishing 17 are about
possessions. Possessions are mentioned 2,172 times on scripture-three
times more than love, seven times more than prayer and eight times
more than belief. The bible takes possessions very seriously. In fact,
worship of money and stuff is a violation of the first commandment.
Many don’t have a problem with things but friends and family take
center stage in there hearts and minds. Moms, Dads and sister brother,
uncle’s aunt’s grandmas’, and grandpas’, cousins, nieces’, and
nephews, boy friends, girl friends, husbands, wives, when u become a
Christian these are and can become your enemy’s. Jesus says:
Matthew 10: 34-38 Micah 6:6
Christian commitment may separate friends and loved ones. In this
Jesus was not encouraging disobedience to parents or conflict at home.
Rather, he was showing that his presence demands a decision.
Because some will follow Christ and some won’t, conflict will inevitably
arise. As we take up our cross and follow him, our different values,
morals, goals. And purposes well set us apart from others. Christ calls
us to a higher mission than to find comfort and tranquility in this life.
Love of family is a law of God, but even this love can be self-serving
and used as an excuse not to serve God or do his work. Don’t neglect
your family, but remember that your commitment to God is even more
important. God should be your first priority. Life application:
1) What pressures do you feel on your self to have certain material
possessions because of what other people at your school/work
have?
2) What about time? Do you feel like you give up so much time that
you don’t really have much energy left for “spiritual” matters? If
so, what things are you doing that may not be necessary? What
things could you add to your list that would be more along the
lines of what Jesus would want you to do?
3) Why do you think Jesus said it is so difficult for a rich man to get
into heaven? Can you see anything in your own life that might be
making it difficult for you to follow Jesus the way he wants you
too?
4) What would it look like if Christians took seriously Jesus’
command to the young ruler in v.21 to give away everything and
follow him? What if we did that? What would that look like?
5) If it’s unrealistic right now for us to do exactly what Jesus said in
v.21, what are some ways we can make a start in the right
direction? What practical things can we implement in our own
group? At school?
MAKING IT PERSONAL:
What is keeping you from following Jesus, or competes for your loyalty
to him-possessions, lack of time?
QUOTES:
“Our present culture, however, specializes in inflaming endless lust for
possessions with advertisements that constantly convince us that we
need more (particularly to create the ease we never found). The
marketers don’t tell us much about their products, but they spend a
great deal of energy (and enormous amounts of money) appealing to
our fears and dreams. Thus, the idolatry of possessions plays to the
deeper idolatry of our selves- and in endlessly consuming society;
persons are always remaking themselves with new belongings”.
Marva J. Dawn,
A royal “waste” of time, 1999