The Idol of Stuff
2015-02-02
In our series, "Get Right" we have come to a passage in Habakkuk where God presents 5 laments against unrighteousness.  Each of these laments addresses a different idol that humans create.  Idolatry is when we make a good thing the main thing.  That thing becomes a coveted thing and the coveted thing becomes an idol that devours us.  The first idol that God addresses is what we have called "stuff."  

In our culture, like the Chaldeans, we tend to heap up "stuff" in order to make ourselves happier people.  We are on the lookout for bigger, badder, and better stuff.  We are materialistic because we are fallen.  Romans 1 tells us that humankind is efficient at worshiping the created rather than the Creator.  In our Western culture our religion of stuff has impeded the flow of the Gospel.  In order to maintain our stuff we have to spend an immense amount of time, talent and treasure.  But Jesus reminds us that it is impossible to serve two masters.  It is impossible to serve Jesus and our stuff - something has to give.  

In the sermon, "The gods We Love, Part 1", I presented some statistics about how Americans spend their money.  In 2014 we spent 7.4 billion dollars on Halloween (including 350 million on pet costumers).  In the same year we spent 600 billion dollars on Christmas.  Those are some massive figures.  I also made it more personal by presenting American averages on every day wants.  We spend:
  • 1100.00 per yer per person on coffee
  • 1500.00 a year per household on cable
  • 900.00 a year per person on cell phones
  • 2700.00 a year per person on Entertainment
  • 500.00 a year per person on alcohol (we know this is low)
In other words we spend and average of 6500.00 a year on the "small things in life."  Meanwhile, Christians are giving at a lower rate than churchmen during the Great Depression.  Every year Americans give just a little more to the church and ministry than what they spend on coffee and alcohol.  Jesus says that wherever our heart is, there our treasure will be also. Now the point is not that having a drink or a cell phone is wrong.  Our problem is bigger than pocket change - we have a heart problem.  

At Stone's Throw Church the median income of our community is about 75,000.00 per year.  If Stone's Throw Church were to give at a 10% rate per member their income would be about 1.25 million dollars per year.  That would be enough money to finish our building project, pay for current and future staff and still have 500,000.00 dollars each year readily available to do local and worldwide ministry.  Can you imagine the impact for Jesus we could have when money really isn't an issue?  Can you imagine the churches we could build all of the world where construction and pastors are much less expensive?  Could you imagine the help we could offer to children at risk?  Can you imagine how many counselors we could employ to help with the major drug problem we have in the MOT area, or the assistance we could give to those in poverty?  

We have a choice to make - we are a part of something special.  We are trying to build a church that will outlast all of us.  We are building a church for people we do not know and their children and their children's children.  One day, our prayer, Lord-willing, is that someone from Stone's Throw Church will pull this old blog up and read it to a congregation that includes your children and grandchildren and their children - and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to be preached.  

If you are convicted I want to encourage you to take some very practical steps.  If you are married, I want to encourage you and your spouse to sit down and to truthfully analyze whether or not your generous - with time, treasure and talent.  Break out a spread sheet and list all of the hours that you have during the week.  Look at your spending honestly.  Set some goals.  If you are giving nothing, set a plan for how you might be able to start giving.  If you are already giving, ask if you are giving generously.  Do this together.  It is easy to convince ourselves that we are generous.  But what is the reality?  Have the conversation.  

If you are single, think about meeting with someone you trust or with a leader in the church.  The Elders and Pastor's and Community Group leaders would love to sit down with you in order to encourage you.  Take an honest look at your spending habits - how you spend your time and treasure and talent and ask if your treasure is really in heaven.  

The point is, do not let this opportunity pass you by to burn down your idol of stuff.  It is not wrong to have nice things or to spend time in activities you love.  It is sinful, however, when those things impede the flow of the Gospel in your life and the lives of others.  

Respond to what you have heard.  The facts are compelling.  Imagine a church where time, money and talent are no longer in short supply.  We could do something really amazing.  

Finally, our compulsion to give is not fear or guilty but rather the very love and generosity of Christ.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8 that the church should give generously because out of the poverty of Jesus we have received all of his riches.  We have been made rich because of riches we have in Jesus.  The generosity of Jesus is what compels us to give generously of our time, treasure and talent.  

You can listen to the entire sermon "The gods We Love" right here.  
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