"Abundant Living" is a very popular topic among today's Christian churches. It has been my personal observation that many churches whose primary focus is"Abundant Living" are seeing steady growth within their congregations. And why wouldn't they? A comfortable lifestyle is part of the American dream. Comfort and lack of hardship is a prime motivator in why so many Americans diligently work long hours thus, making America the most productive per capita workforce in the world. Most of us have a strong work ethic that has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, the fruit of this multi-generational labor is seen by the rest of the world in our national wealth. Although our nation is currently facing some economic challenges, the average American continues to enjoy an abundant lifestyle that is incomprehensible to 85% of the world's population.
As a Christian, I ask, "Are American citizens REALLY striving to maintain comfort and absence of financial hardship or have we been blinded by materialism?" From the view out my window, I see the later. I see a generation that has never known true hardship. I see a generation who has turned away from Godly contentment to the idolization of materialism. It is a fact that we, humans, were all created worship the Living God. When we turn our backs and refuse to worship Him, we will worship something because God created us to worship. If we study human history, and observe humans throughout the world today, we will see that every single living man, woman and child has and does worship something or someone. Some worship the true Living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while others worship other gods and idols, some worship world leaders, media icons, philosophies, ancestors, sciences, careers, materialism, the list is infinite. It seems as if we are genetically pre-disposed to worship. Being an American, who lives and works in America, it is easy for me to observe that materialism has become the false god of our nation.
What does abundant living and materialism have to do with stewardship? Actually, quite a bit. II Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." II Corinthians 6:16-18 says, " And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." The Word of God tells us that in Christ the old man has passed away and becomes new. It tells us that we are the temple of the Lord and we are to separate ourselves from the idolaters of this fallen world and in doing so, we become His sons and daughters.
I find it unfortunate that many of today's abundant living churches are not teaching Biblical truth. Instead they are feeding the idol of materialism. I've watched several televised "abundant living" sermons (from very large prominent churches) that contain absolutely no Biblical substance. They were nothing more than motivational speeches about positive thinking and acquiring excessive material belongings. I've heard things like, "Do you want a bigger house? Do you want to wear finer clothes? Do you want private school for your children? Do you want a luxury automobile? As a child of the Most High Living God, you deserve it. God's people should be the wealthiest people on earth. If we don't have the best, the rest of the world will not want our God. By planting a financial seed, the windows of heaven will open and your bank account will grow ... blah, blah, blah." Matthew 6:31-34, says, "Therefore take not thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you." According to the Bible, God KNOWS our needs and if we SEEK Him and His righteousness, He will PROVIDE for our needs.
Why are Christians seeking the things of this world? Moreover, how could, in good conscience, some church leaders promote the acquisition of worldly goods over a closer relationship with God? America is a society blinded by the idol of materialism. Christians have allowed the, " ... we live under grace not under law ..." line of thinking to infiltrate today's Christian church. This way of thinking has allowed too much room for weeds of sin to rampantly grow. Today's average Christan regularly covets his neighbors possessions and projects a false image of his finances, time and relationships. The scientific reality is that grace does not, will not, and can not abolish God's LAWS. If God's laws are abolished and excused away by grace, our universe will cease to exist.
I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Wow! That's a stretch, how'd she get there?" I'll explain. When God created the universe(s) and planet Earth he put certain scientific LAWS into place. These include, but are not limited to, the Law of Gravity, Laws of Thermodynamics, Laws of Motion, Law of Sowing and Reaping with Principal of Increase, etc. If any one of the God created scientific laws were abolished, absolutely EVERYTHING God created would cease to exist. A God ordained Law is absolutely unchangeable. In removing or changing any Law implemented by God, everything we know to be reality and truth vanishes. New Testament grace does not and can not abolish Old Testament Law. Contrary to what many of today's Christian churches teach, Jesus Christ did not abolish the Law, He fulfilled the Law. We must realize that when God created this world and it's supporting Laws, both physical and spiritual, He created it for a sinless people. Because of Adam's fall resulting in our inherited sin, it is not possible for us to observe and fulfill the requirements of God's spiritual Laws. Because of this impossibility, He sent Jesus Christ as an atonement for our sins. Our reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ does not give us a "free pass" to continue in sin. Instead, it provides us with an avenue for repentance of our sins. Thus, Jesus' fulfillment of the Old Testament Law.
With all that stated, GRACE does not excuse the coveting of thy neighbor's possessions and barring a false witness. Grace does not make it permissible for Christians to emulate the unsaved world. The Bible specifically states that Christians are to be separate, different, peculiar, renewed. We are not to seek worldly goods and possessions, we are to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness so that these things can be provided for us. Luke 16: 10-13 says, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Stewardship is not the acquisition of goods and resources, it is the responsible management of the goods and resources God has provided us with. The key to Christians obtaining an abundant life is not the acquisition of possessions. The key to an abundant life is superior stewardship of God's provisions.