Last blog we started this topic on materialism. Man is natural and there is need for us to learn lessons form nature. Nature is a great teacher. When you open up a fruit, there are many seeds you can find in it. The reason for that is that it may be a blessing to others. Talking about the church and materialism we have to apply it as Jesus taught on materialism. We discover it is different from the prosperity of the world.
Solomon displayed this when he was told to ask whatever he wants from God. He asked for the key thing that causes him to be a blessing to others. You are blessed with material things to be a blessing to other. From nature we can see that abundance is our birthright. Looking at everywhere in the world we can see abundance. There is abundance of people, animals, galaxies, trees, stars and sea. It’s the will of God that we have all things in abundance.
The lesson I am learning from this is like what Washington T. Broker said ‘we shall prosper as we learn to do the common things of life in an uncommon way. Let down your buckets where you are’. This was demonstrated in the life of Moses; he did common things in uncommon ways. He was just to mention a few, born by slave but live as a son of a king, meekest of all men yet a mighty warrior, educated in the court of he king but could dwell in the desert with no reference to his old life and glamour. This is the royalty we are created with in life. The materials we have are to serve us and not the other way.
Reasons why we are having materialism epidemic in the church today are that people allow materials to identify them. We evaluate our worth by the money we have. This is the reason why people are craving for money indiscriminately in the church. People can go to any length to get money, most of the times in the way contrary to the will of God. Some others evaluate their security by the money they have. Others evaluate their success by the money they have. To some they acclaim their power by the money they have. The status of many is judged by the money they have. As much as this is true we need to understand that our identity is not by the materials we have but whom we are in Christ.
Misplaced identity has made many to have poverty and slavish mentality. Luke 12: 19-20 reiterated the story of the rich man but with poverty identity. The pathway to prosperity is in avoiding the slavish mentality. John Eude said the accomplishment of the divine will is the sole end for which we are in the world. You are in the world to fulfill a divine will.
Slavish mentality was demonstrated among the children of Israel on their way to the Land of Promise. They collected manna and kept for the following day thinking it may not be available for that day. This contradicted the divine rules. Four things make materialism strong in the church today. The four things are Control, Conflict, Confusion and Corruption.
Control is trying to hoard something to such an extent that it becomes useless to you and the people that are in need. Proverb pronounced that the people should curse such hoarders. The slaves are willing to disadvantage the community to their own advantage. Christ is worthy of all the praise because He disadvantage Himself so that the community can be at advantage.
Conflict is another problem confronting materialistic worshippers. The scripture says a proud man stirs up strife. Materialism makes people arrogant in the church. Proud means literally “wide of appetite,” that is, an inner drive that overlooks boundaries and warning signs and limits. A greedy person is unsatisfied with what he has. So he foolishly overreaches and triggers conflict with others.
Confusion is one of the problems of materialism. Solomon in the book of Proverbs stated that ‘The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward. The words for “deceptive wages” can also be translated “wages that are a lie.” Selfishness tells us, “Get what you want. Then you’ll be happy.” But it is a lie, to confuse us. Jesus stated that a corn of wheat must fall and die before it produces more, materialism projected another perceptive. This is the confusion in our time.
Corruption is the root problem of materialism. When church people can cheat people for money its abomination according to Pro. 20:23; the word abomination is a strong word in the bible. You might be ‘morally’ pure, but if you cheat people for money, your life is still an abomination in the sight of God. Do you owe anyone money you are not repaying? It’s abomination to the Lord.
Walker Kelly told us the story of the French Empress. It was treated as a crime against the state if any lady presumed to wear a dress of the same pattern as those of the empress in her days. None can receive the newest French fashions before the Empress did. When she died between fifteen and sixteen thousand dresses were found in her wardrobe, some of which had been worn but once and many never; two large chests full of silk stocking, two others of rebrands, some thousand pairs of shoes, and several hundred pieces of French silk, and other rich belongings. These were neither given away nor sold, but left undisturbed until they were spoiled.
Many people will consider these material belongings as blessings from God. Others count material blessings as the sign of pleasing the Lord, or the mark of Divine approval from God. Material blessing according to some is the sign that God is answering their prayers even when though they are not living according to Christian principles and lifestyle. Some are in ‘gospel churches’ because of material blessings. Many songs in the churches are changed to serve God only when He blesses them.
The recent teaching of “seed-sowing” in the churches is eroding the faith of many, and turning them into paying before they get answers to their prayers. In fact the case is so bad that when people come to see the minister for prayer, counseling, and any assistance on pressing issues affecting their lives, they must sow seed before the ‘pastor’ can attend to them. Materialism has become the disease of the priest as well as of the people.
In some mega churches in some countries, you must be wiling to ‘wet’ the hand of the protocol folks before you can be allowed to see the senior pastor. The ‘big pastor’ sometimes responds to the seeker, as fast and fat as their ‘offering’ can be to them and the church. The poor in the congregation are many a times let down as they don’t have the ‘means’ of paying their ticket to see the help of the church. They are invulnerable as they are cut of from reaching their hope.
The problem the church is facing recently is the blockage of spiritual fruit by the materialism as ‘prosperity gospel’ has given wrong perceptive to alleviating the social problem affecting the community. Accumulation of wealth is easily becoming a god in the church and this is leading people astray from the worship of the true God. Yet it is not money itself, but the love of money, which is seen by Scripture as a fundamental cause of evil. The focus of many worshippers is no more on loving God; but on the present and immediate gain and reward. Material prosperity has replaced holistic teaching of Christ. Pastors in many quarters preach ‘leeway gospel’ to desperate folks seeking help to know the true God. Many get ‘mammon’ instead, this in turn increases their appetite for material things and in addition damn the chance of experiencing God.
Scripture warns against valuing wealth too highly. Riches can prevent one from bearing spiritual fruit. If the ministers and the leaders of the church will take time off and adapt the principle of Agur in Proverbs 30:8-9; that prays not to be rich to extent of denying God, this will bring healing to the church and our world. Materialism is the message from the pit of hell that generates godless attitude. It’s turning the material things inward to self instead of God and His kingdom.
Physical possessions of having significant value, such as land, livestock, money, and precious metals, and the practice of valuing such possessions more highly than they ought to be valued is evil cancer in the church. The effect has resulted in the misalignment of ones’ priorities and undermines one’s devotion to God.
In conclusion I like to remind all that at creation God made all things from nothing. He made materials out of nothing. Whatever any one may be having now is from God. God entrusted His wealth on us. God gave humanity dominion over the earth.
In so entrusting them, God appointed humanity as stewards over creation. Everything belongs ultimately to God, whatever one possesses or owns comes as a trust from Him. None can claim the absolute ownership of what he has. The ownership of the property carries significant responsibilities. (We will continue to talk more about materialism next week)