April 2016 Good $ense Newsletter: Winning the Battle Against Materialism
Dear G$ Friends and Partners,
As I write this article my emotions are all over the map. Recently I returned from South Africa where I interacted with wonderful people who have given themselves in difficult situations to serve others vocationally and spiritually. I also saw the very poor – living in shanty towns salvaging in garbage dumps. And just a few miles away I walked through a very modern shopping mall serving upper class South Aftricans who seemed focused on establishing their self-worth through consumption. Contrasts like this do things to the emotions.
After thinking, praying, and wrestling with issues that are clearly beyond my ability to affect directly, I came back to an answer for myself that flows out of Ps. 37. Perhaps it has significance for you as well. It is, “Trust in the Lord and do good in the place where He has placed you at this time”.
One of the places God has placed most of you reading this column is in some aspect of leadership in financial stewardship ministry. Trust in the Lord! Do good! Use Good $ense resources, other resources, create your own resources – whatever it takes to proclaim the counter-cultural truths:
- Life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions
- Things do not bring true happiness
- The most important thing in life is relationships – to God, others and self
Greed is nothing new. Jesus warned the people of His day, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” (Luke 12:15). But it would appear that materialism has permeated our culture to such a degree that our inherently greedy side has been encouraged to manifest itself to new levels.
- major oil companies that have misrepresented the amount of their reserves
- major accounting firms that have promoted questionable tax avoidance schemes
- major law firms that have overcharged millions of dollars
- whole countries that overstate gross domestic product (GDP)
- corporate board members with flagrant conflict of interests
So, back to you and me in our “mission field” within the local church, para-church organizations, and individuals on their own stewardship journeys. To change our cultural environment will take winning the battle against materialism, which my friend Dick Towner has stated many times before is nothing less than a competing theology. We’ll win the battle by equipping folks with a Christian worldview about their money and stuff – one person, one family unit, one church, then one community at a time – and in due course of events, God willing, we’ll change one nation, maybe even one world. Let’s do it!
The degree to which we are successful will open people to a deeper relationship to God and reduce the levels of relational conflict, corporate scandals, neglect of the poor and environmental degradation in our world. That’s worthy of our best efforts.
Trust in the Lord, do good, and may you be blessed in the process!
President, Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!