Worshiping our Wealth?

22 01 2008

A dear brother of ours travels to North Korea to minister from time time (yes, North Korea).  One of the points he regularly makes when he returns is that we Americans are as much indoctrinated by propaganda as the North Koreans.  However, we usually don’t notice it because it is part of our culture and our propaganda machines are a bit more subtle than those of the North Koreans. 

So, what is the propaganda he points to?  What is the ‘god’ we are directed towards so subtly and consistently by our culture?  It is the god of materialism.  My friend shares how obvious this becomes to him, how visible it is to him, when he enters the States after having been in a foreign culture for an extended period.  He explains that it is so shockingly clear that we, Americans, have put our hope in our wealth instead of in God.  As I was thinking about this (especially post Christmas!), I was reminded of the words of another faithful brother, our wise mentor Thomas Watson:

Whatever we love more than God we make a god […] That which a man trusts to he makes his god; but he makes the wedge of gold his hope; he makes money his creator, redeemer, and comforter. It is his creator; if he has money, he thinks he is made: it is his redeemer; if he be in danger, he trusts in his money to redeem him: it is his comforter; if at any time he be sad, the golden harp drives away the evil spirit: so that money is his god. God made man of the dust of the earth, and man makes a god of the dust of the earth.
                                                                  (from the sermon “The Unity of God”)

I think he has clearly put his finger on the pulse of our culture (although he lived almost 400 years ago).  Look around; isn’t wealth being viewed as our maker, redeemer, and comforter?  Doesn’t our culture often look to wealth and material possessions to establish itself, to secure itself, and to cheer itself? 

Now, read again through Watson’s comments and look at your own heart… yeah, mine looks that way too.

The propaganda machine has been pretty effective.    

       

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One response

22 01 2008
Bren

I agree Ryan! I blogged my own similar thoughts recently on this topic. What is frustrating is how blind we are to the allegiance we pay to this god. I’ve known individuals who are so consumed about being “responsible” in saving money that every last stinking penny is accounted for to the point that they leave an impression of stinginess and selfishness. My experience has shown that when people are that consumed by being “disciplined” in saving X amount every month, giving exactly 10% (no more, no less) to the church, and adhering strictly to their budgets, it is no longer a noble desire, but one that has been allowed to become our version of the Law. By it we measure our success and our goodness because of how well we are meeting the standard we have laid out. There is no room for allowing other’s needs to detract from the system we religiously follow because “this is the amount we as a family have decided is wise to save.” The neighbor who lost his job may wonder how he will feed his family this month, but we feel so blessed because we still have our monthly $200 to put into our savings account, to sit there not being used or needed right now. Heaven forbid we use any of that because someday we may need it. The need is now people! Do you have that little faith in God’s provision for you in the future in some unforeseen tragedy that you would rather hold on with both fists than to help those in need now? Come on! Caring about others is just the right thing to do! Ok, so now you got me off on my soapbox…I’ll stop now.

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