"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Materialism + the Gospel = ???

The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few....

This weekend my church had a Missions Conference.  In case you didn't know, I have a thing for missions....  here and here and I know there is more but I never remember to tag these posts.  I have a thing for missions in all ways, but my #1 love is the persecuted church.  Or persecuted woman.  And incidentally those go together often.  In my dream life, I work in North Africa or some Islamic Meditteranean country with women.

Anyway, last year I wrote this which highlighted my decision to focus less on materialism and more on the eternal.  I have spent the last 6 months really considering each decision I make with my money very carefully.  Not that I have cut back everything, but I have been able to save more and in turn managed to fit sponsoring a child into my budget.  (incidentally that has been a phenomenal daily lesson for Jude).

However, last night, while listening to Dr. Stanley Toussaint, I reexamined my heart regarding this.  He was highlighting the verses from 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 where it talks about how the gospel is the treasure within us and how we are merely jars of clay.  In many ways he reordered my thinking on these verses, but he said something that given my attempts to leave materialism, really struck me.  He said that carrying the death of Christ in our bodies as vs 10 talks about isn't a call to inflict suffering and do without material things but more a recognition that we should be suffering rejection because of Christ.  More of a as they hated Christ, they will hate us thing. (matt 10:22)  And he also said that anytime you see someone who focuses on giving up, you will often find pride and a critical spirit.

And I am so guilty of that.  Maybe it's because I live in Texas which is both full of many, many Christians who also happen to be very well off.  And I have a definite disdain for the way Texas is full of people who fill pews every Sunday and then spend more money than you really need.  And even my typing of that is critical.  And I wonder how many of them are really living as "the called out ones" who are trying to change the world and how many of them just feel good about themselves in their comfortable Christian lives.

So all that to say, somehow I've got to reconcile these two thoughts and reach a place of humility about this.  Because I don't want a critical spirit.  But I also think that sharing the gospel is the only thing of true worth for the Christian.  So I ask you, how do I make sense of this?  How do I live for Christ and the gospel without idolizing materialism but also not idolizing rejecting materialism?  What really is the call for the Christian in a world with more than enough and how do I really reconcile these ideas?

I would really really love your comments on this one, because I honestly am not sure what this should look like.


Anonymous said...

Your questions about materialism resonated with me too. Here's what I think after thinking and praying about it: Ask yourself "Is this degree of materialism hurting my relationship with Christ? Is it causing me to be participating in idolatry?" If the answer is "Yes" then it is the sin of materialism. If not, enjoy what God has blessed you with! Make sense?

ThistleAshD said...

I actually think your right. I was thinking about it a good bit too while reading through Ecclesiastes this morning. And it says that if God blessed, enjoy it. But of course that's said in a way of understanding that God really did bless you and that it can be all gone in a moment. So I guess that's what I'm going to work on. Really evaluating my choices as living in Gods grace while still being conscious of the fact that its Gods not mine.