Some would say Muslim extremists. Others might say apathy. In-fighting among various denominations as well as abhorrent behavior by prominent–-and not so prominent–-Christians also pose dangers to Christianity. Moral relativism attempts to marginalize absolute truths which leads to rejection of the laws God put in place to protect us.
While all these are legitimate threats to Christianity, there is another threat that stands head and shoulders above them. In fact, Jesus even mentioned it when He taught His disciples to pray.
There is a line of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 & Luke 11:2-4) that is usually translated as “Lead us not into temptation” or something close to that. It’s more accurately translated as “Don’t let us enter into materialism.” In the Aramaic language that Jesus spoke, the word for materialism was layered with meanings. It referred to all that was physical–-material–-in the world, as opposed to spiritual. It implied superficial as opposed to deep. And it meant materialism in the sense that we normally think of it today: consumerism, acquisition of goods, the love of money.
Human bending in that direction was as clear in the 1st century as it is today. The danger is also just as clear.
Unfortunately, it seems that the more we have, the more we want. That’s one of the reasons we see “prosperity preachers” trying to teach ways to use God as a divine vending machine to have our materialistic desires met. Most often, any prosperity that results is in the hands of those preaching this message.
God wants us to be rich, they say. Which is a satanic twisting of the truth into a lie–-the devil’s favorite tactic. Yes, God does want us to be rich; He promises us the blessing of riches. But the riches Jesus referred to are spiritual, based on a relationship with Him. These are not a 6-figure income, 3 cars, a 6000 square foot house, a boat, and 2 vacation homes. True riches can only be stored in heaven, and in our heart.
We can feel free to accept material blessings from God. We shouldn’t come to expect them. And above all, we can’t allow the blessing to obscure the source.
By focusing on the material, we remain separated from God. There is no worse place to be. Here on earth, it may be called “The Good Life.” But when we leave the earth for our eternal destiny, that separation is called Hell.