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)