Can a healthy relationship exist between material goods and God's kingdom? What does plastic, metal and glass have to do with accomplishing God's goals? Is it possible to possess things and yet not be drunk with love for them?
Many will go so far as to admit that God does not need man-made devises, no matter how much they facilitate our daily functionality. But how is this knowledge useful for daily living?
The most useful answer for us churchgoing Americans is: Our stuff is nothing more than a means to God's ends. The most useless answer is to compare ourselves with other people throughout the world until we feel so bad about ourselves that we do nothing. Some might even be misguided enough to try and manufacture humility in themselves by arbitrarily selling or giving their stuff away. So it goes that money issues seem straightforward enough and yet questions involving material goods confound and dismay most churchgoing Americans.
As long as we maintain a hopeful, eternal perspective in Christ, we can confidently put material possessions in their appropriate, negligible places. They are disposable means at best. Physical things, including our own bodies, will only turn back into the dust from which they came. Even this dust will be consumed by a heavenly fire someday.
In Christ, there is an eternally wise and spiritually effective way to deal with material things.
Average Americans are hopelessly dependent on the idea of owning certain things. Both churched and un-churched folk have been known to take out a second job just to pay for the car that they need to drive to their second job.
Even apart from unreasonable excess, many single people as well as responsible parents seem to be caught in a monetary catch-22. They are told that they are rich, but that statement is neither reassuring nor helpful for making legitimate ends meet.
Therefore, a reassurance that Americans and many westerners need is that, riches or no riches, neither one guarantees virtue in God's eyes. There are virtuous rich people, and there are blasphemous poor people.
Trying really hard to be a good Christian is good, but freedom to obey Christ in every circumstance is better.
God, who created all things, is free from any material dependency. So also, because we are an extension of Christ, we can enjoy a similar freedom no matter how little-faiths may multiply and swarm all around.
If we seek Christ, then our goal has nothing to do with man-made inventions or goals. But rather, our goal is to conform ourselves to Christ's example, who lives and breathes confidence in God. We should live after the manner of Christ, who always trusts the Father, in comfort and in discomfort, in life and in death.
If Christ looks to God the Father to procure His heavenly success, then how much more should we mortals depend on God! Just as God has endorsed Christ's ministry on earth from the beginning 'til now, so also we, as Christ's followers, should depend on heavenly endorsement for our earthly lives.
Jesus only spoke as the Father told Him to speak, therefore Christ's words are still more powerful than anyone else's ever. And Jesus only acted as the Father commanded, the fruit of which is the most ground-breaking, world-redeeming life that has ever been lived. Therefore, if we surrender ourselves to Him then He might make our humble lives spiritually ground-breaking both in this world and in the world to come. And this is all to God's credit.
As we fellowship with God, His Spirit will teach us to adopt the worldview of Christ, who saw divine opportunities in raging, natural storms as well as in the whining, little tempests of men. He fed the hungry masses with physical food in order to point them back toward Himself, our Spiritual Food. He even trusted the Father to redeem the most gruesome tool of death that men could concoct and make it into a symbol of heavenly hope for His people forever.
by Patrick Roberts
This is an excerpt from To the Church of the West, Scattered Throughout the World. Find this book and similar articles at www.BooksByPatrick.com
Patrick is an average Christ-seeker. His goal is to turn people to Jesus Christ.
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