Friday, February 04, 2005

The Global Village and Materialism

This morning I was worshipping to the song "What I Have Vowed" by Matt Redman of the CD "Heart of Worship". This is IT.
All I have vowed I will make good.
My life is not my own. No longer my own.
Living now for you.
Everything I think. Everything I do is for You

Our Christianity has made us free to make these dread filled choices to take up our cross and make difficult sacrifices. We choose between HIM and us. As the world becomes more fragmented and alienating, such choices become more accentuated and crisis laden. The modern world pulls me to self preservation and fortress laden isolation. I am blessed with a dread-filled choice to obey. The modern notion was that this choice was a turn from the chaos of the world into the piety of individual sanctification and experience, BUT a more balanced and biblical theology sees the refuge being in both the Lord and His people. Instead of resisting the modern world, I applaud the increase of the complexity of life that is brought about by human freedom in the context of human fallenness. As the human condition becomes more free, the dread and difficulty of exercising this freedom will increase the psychological stress people actually experience. This dread is the experience of human freedom. So, as human freedom flourishes, the church can shine ever brighter as the place of refuge and safety. So, I stand pledging my obedience in the difficult modern world of infinite possibility.

One of the great and dreadful choices we must make is the choice to give freely.
Jesus beckons us with these words,
19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23"But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth."

The Meaning of the Term Treasure
Many argue that this word treasure means to have affection. Therefore, the saying “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” would be interpreted to mean “Do not have affections for the things of the earth”. Verse 21 would then mean, “Where your affection is there is your heart also”.
But this interpretation actually makes no sense of the passage and in fact is a very "platonic" and even "Gnostic" way of looking at the passage. First to say that where our affection is there is or heart is tautological. The saying reveals no new content. Of course where my affection is there is my heart. This interpretation is basically saying that where your heart is there is your heart. So the need then is to discern your heart in order to be able to discern our heart. NO!!! We discern our heart not through self-examination of our motives but we discern our heart by our observable fruit.

When Jesus says "do not store up treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy", He speaking of the physical vulnerability and transient nature of this thing called treasures. It is far more natural to interpret treasures literally as earthly treasures or earthly wealth or luxury items. Now, Jesus' saying means the following, "Do not store up for yourself wealth and luxury items, for where your wealth is there is your heart. Instead become wealthy in God’s economy."
My friends, you know a tree by its fruit. Daily, we make choices. Make friends with earthly wealth or hoard this wealth. Give to everyone who asks or be close handed. You cannot serve and strive for earthly wealth and also strive for heavenly wealth. The dreadful choice remains until the end of the age. The poor we will always have with us. The poor remain for our good and sanctification. The poor force us to make the dreadful choice of sacrifice. Do not be deceived. Where you treasures are there is your heart also.
1 John 3:16-18 says it this way,
16We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

The poor are in our global village and before us daily. This global reality makes the possibilities more and more ever before us. The complexity of society and the information age has made us more responsible to our global neighbor. As the opportunities increase so too the responsibility of our freedom and the dread and difficulty of our decisions. We are not allowed to see the world and not give. If we do, the love of God is not in us. Again, the external storing of our treasures as opposed to the free surrender and sacrifice of our treasures, our material possessions, is the test of our hearts.

Jesus presents this choice before us as essential to following Him. Such expressions of love with wisdom is vital to the display of the Moral Perfections of God through His people.
The global village and the expansion of freedom makes such choices more available and our opportunity for the Glory of God more ever present.
God Bless,

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