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.