By the Fireside: All This! And Heaven Too?
“Ten years from now your income will be up twenty percent. You will have a four-day working week, and probably a guaranteed annual wage. You will own two of the millions of cars on the U.S. highways. One of your cars will be jet propelled. You will be able to fly from New York to London in five hours.
Your house will be heated and lighted by the sun. The built-in cooking units will be cleverly hidden behind slidding doors. Automatic eyes will open and close the windows as the temperature and weather change. Plastic cans, pre-cooked meats and microwave cooking methods will be commonplace. Your color TV set will cost you about $300, while your wristwatch-sized radio will be purchased for $25 at any corner drugstore.”
These are not the predictions of a fanatic. They have been made some years back (1947) by Mr. Leo Cherne, who was the Executive Director of the Research Institute of America. He and his organization spent $6,000,000 annually, in the study of such matters. He ought to know!
The Bible declares, and history demonstrates that prosperity is one of the most dangerous friends that an nation can have. It led Israel into idolatry again and again. It ate the foundation from under the Roman Empire. It foreshadows the fall of this great land of ours. Materialistic prosperity has led strong men to destruction. Lot, Samson, Saul, and thousands like them have suffered at its hands.
This growing hurricane of prosperity presents to the earnest Christian an unbelievably subtle temptation. The spirit of a covetous materialism (which is idolatry) can overtake him as quietly and as unobserved as the falling of a shadow across his path. In order to keep up with the current social progress, he finds that a bigger and better job is indispensable. This in turn requires a bigger and better office, farm or factory. A bigger and better car and home naturally follow. Nor is this jig-saw complete without a bigger and better church.
Once upon a time, the story goes, there was a man who decided to build bigger and better barns. Jesus very frankly said that the man was a “fool” for investing in wood, hay, and stubble (this life) instead of investing in gold, silver, and precious stones(eternity). This analysis makes good sense.
Public Enemy No. 1
The god of materialism is the most popular and best advertised of all pagan gods in America. Newspapers, magazines, billboards, store windows, offices and home vie with one another in giving him space. He is incarnate in a thousand shapes and forms. He is ever present. He is attractive to the eye and a thing to be desired. His devotees number in the millions. Even churches succumb to his attractions. Our 97,000,000 American church members are worshipping in more expensive structures, are sitting in more comfortable pews, and singing out of better-bound hymn books than ever before. The church can so easily say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” (Revelation 3:17)
How very closely this approximates the man who was clothed in purple and fine linen. He fared sumptuously from day to day while one made of the same flesh and blood sat at his gate, cold, hungry, and sick.
On the mission field of the world today the dogs of a dozen idolatrous religions are licking the sores of a cold, hungry, and sick humanity. We have the God-given ‘garments’ to warm the hearts, the ‘bread’ to feed the soul and the ‘balm’ to heal the wounds. Woe be unto our Christian experience, if we do not joyfully share these treasures.
God or Mammon?
The deadly scourge of complacency follows in the train of prosperity, and faith (the one thing that pleases God) disappears. “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) Adversity is often proven to be a truer friend than progress, poverty than prosperity, and conflict than peace.
If the task of world evangelism is to be accomplished, it will be done by men who have set their affections on things which are above, who seek first the kingdom of God and who look for the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. If we are to save ourselves from this eating and drinking, giving and taking, buying and selling, greedy and grasping generation, then we must look for that “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10)
If we are to win nations for which Christ died, then we must practice the deliberate discipline of consciously and conscientiously walking in the footsteps of Paul who counted not his life dear unto himself, but looked upon all personal gain as refuse in order that he might win men to Christ.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”Matthew 6:19-21