In our American culture, with all its abundance, it is easy to succumb to the deception that our material wealth can protect us. When you walk into a market like a Wal-Mart Super Store, the choices and abundance of the products on the shelves overwhelms you. Not all cultures of the world have this abundance, but in the United States and Western Europe, materialism is a very common distraction, and many use it as an excuse to reject Christ.
In the early 1980s, we belonged to a church that adopted international students for a semester while they attended local colleges. One of the families took a girl, eighteen years old, from St. Petersburg in the former Soviet Union. Her parents were members of the Communist Party, and her family was privileged. She bragged she would only have to wait in line for one to two hours to buy meat, bread, eggs, milk, and other groceries while most others who were not members of the party would wait three to six hours. After she had been in the United States about two weeks, the hosts took her to the Harris Teeter Superstore on W. Friendly Ave in Greensboro. They told her: “We’re going shopping for food.” So she said, “I hope we won’t have to wait too long.” As they walked through the main door of the store, she took in the scene and froze in her steps. The entry door was near the produce section, so all the fresh produce products were in their displays. She asked, in a tiny voice, “Can you go just take them to buy?” They answered, “Yes, of course.” She began to weep, almost uncontrollably. She asked, “How can this be? It’s just there. You can pick it up and buy it?” She could not connect this abundance with her previous eighteen years of life. She would later say, “It seemed impossible! I couldn’t comprehend it or believe it.”
The materialistic worldview’s foundation is abundance. When scarcity comes, this view becomes bankrupt in the scramble to survive. When your material possessions are suddenly gone—tsunami, tornado, hurricane, etc.—you will be hopeless without Christ. Jesus addresses this in Luke.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “ The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” —Luke 12:13–21
This blog is on pages 52-54 of Chapter 3 in my book Always Be Ready to Give an Answer! Charlie is also the author of ANSWERS For “The Hope That Is In You.” http://yourchristiananswers.com
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