ma·te·ri·al·ism Noun/: A tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.
Is materialism an issue for you? It is for me. You and I live in an alluring world … a world of consumerism that is unparalleled in the history of mankind. We can have literally anything we want if we are willing to work hard enough, sacrifice deeply enough and keep our eyes on our target. It is very easy to get caught up in the endless quest of the biggest and the best, and actually convince ourselves that we are living the good life.
If you have allowed yourself to be drawn into the noose of materialism, I have the antidote: declare your true citizenship. Hint: it is not of this world.
What am I talking about?
Although Peter wrote the following words two thousand years ago, they are eerily applicable to 21st century America:
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 1 Peter 2:11
The key is to realize that we are “temporary residents and foreigners” on planet Earth. Our true citizenship, of course, is in heaven. As visitors, we need to be ever wary of the temptation to stake a claim and stay put. Why? Because, as Peter tells us, “worldly desires will wage war against our very souls“. Clearly, materialism is an evil affront to our eternal destination. We are playing hardball here.
How does declaring our true citizenship help?
Our prayers will be of eternal significance.
After all, Jesus told us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.” He knew that we need to be looking upward when we pray; to think in terms of bringing God’s Kingdom to earth. Citizens of earth pray only for life to change while here on earth; citizens of heaven pray for life to change for eternity. Big difference.
We will be storing treasures in heaven instead of earth.
Once we denounce our earthly citizenship, we will refocus our energies on heaven. After all, in the eyes of heaven, does it really matter if we live in the biggest house on our street, belong to the most prestigious country club or drive a new car? Someday, all of that stuff will end up in a dump. Jesus put it this way, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal”. Matthew 6: 19,20
Our perspective of wealth will be forever changed.
We are surrounded by ambitious, intelligent entrepreneurs who strategize, take calculated risks and invest their very lives into the brain child they are developing. What a wonderful world of opportunities we live in! But, unless our citizenship is rooted in heaven, we will view that enterprise as an end in itself instead of a means to an end. A citizen of heaven, instead of focusing on growth for growth’s sake, will be asking himself, “How can my business further the kingdom of God?”
Jesus challenged his followers with these words, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26
We will live life on the edge.
Jim Elliot (1927-56) was convinced that God was leading him to the Huaorani Indians, a tribe who had never heard of Jesus, and who killed any outsiders who tried to approach them. Many tried to dissuade Elliot from going, saying it was too risky. He wrote in his journal, “Surely those who know the great passionate heart of Jehovah must deny their own lives to share in the expression of His.”
On January 8, 1956, Elliot and four comrades met with members of the Huaorani tribe at a designated beachhead. The tribesmen greeted them with spears and, on that day, all five of the men met their death. Should Elliott have listened to those warnings? You be the judge — in the days to come, Elliott’s wife Elisabeth was part of a team who shared the message of Jesus with the very men who killed her husband, and peace has reigned in that tribe ever since.
The point is this: Jesus told his followers, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Mat 10:28 Think about it. If someone kills your body, he is only shortening your time of temporary citizenship and allowing you to enter directly to your true homeland.
Jim Elliot wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Elliot lived as a citizen of heaven. Materialism, I am certain, was not an issue for him.