Monday, 18 June 2012

Illustration of Materialism

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12:16-21

When you are given much and the people around you have so little it is a sin to keep it to yourself and not help those worse off than you.  This man had plenty, and he'd gained it through righteous means, he wasn't a crook, he wasn't a dodgy business man... his fields had simply produced a bumper crop.  Where this guy goes wrong is that he sees the wealth and think only about how it can assist him.  The communal communities of the period would have meant the people hearing the story would have instantly understood this man was probably the land keeper while an entire village lived on his land, worked on his land, and made their living working for him.  Not for a second does this man think of blessing those who live and work for him - who probably did most of the work collecting his bumper crop.

We are given so much in Australia.  We cannot deny that we are rich (even if we're not driving a Mercedes). And these days we live in a global community.  The majority of our goods are made by people in third world countries who live in poverty.  Yet it seems we exploit them more than we help or bless them.  Our materialism contributes to the continuation of poverty in other countries.

I used this following illustration in a sermon yesterday.  I had one of the young boys sit up on stage with me, and I asked him if he liked M&Ms - you can safely assume the correct answer I am sure.  Now the children had been quite involved in the service that morning so I asked him if he thought he deserved some M&Ms for his contributions (again you are already assuming the correct answer).  So I told him I thought he was a pretty top bloke, and he'd worked hard - so I put this bowl of M&Ms in front of him.


His eyes lit up (his mother's grew wide in the fear I was going to let him eat all of them) and I asked him if it was fair that he got to sit and eat all the M&Ms while everyone else just watched him.  I reminded him that I thought every one in the church worked pretty hard, and I cared for them all as much as I cared for him, and I would like them to get M&Ms as well... but I had given them all to him.  I asked him what his response to that should be - and thankfully he replied that he should give most of them away so others could have some too.  We put them out at morning tea and it was a great reminder that we've been given so much, and that God loves everyone so much and he wants everyone to live well.  So our responsibility is to give away most, so others can have some too.

Jesus calls the rich man in the story a fool.  Are we fools in Australia?

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