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God's Money and You Part 6: Affluenza Outbreak

By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted September 19, 2012

RELIGION – Due to modern medicine and science we have vaccinations for many easily spread sicknesses. This is nice; I have enjoyed never suffering from polio or the bubonic plague.  But there is still one disorder that affects many people and can be hurting and even killing them silently for many years: Affluenza. This is a sickness that convinces people that money and material things can make them happy. It will affect 100% of the population at some point in their life. The only known cure is not very popular, but it does work. So let’s learn a little more about this common disorder.
First, one of the greatest dangers of Affluenza is that it keeps us from realizing our need of Christ. Humility and desperation are the usual precursors to coming to Jesus. But a love of money masks that need. Jesus warned the Laodicean Christians because, although they were materially wealthy, they were desperately poor in the things of God. “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). They were judging their spiritual health by their material health.
Imagine you went to your Dr. complaining of major headaches. He runs tests and determines you have a brain tumor. But all that he gave you was a strong pain medication. This takes away the pain, but it does not do anything for your real problem, the tumor. Retail therapy and buying new things can make your life “better” but it masks your true problem, that of not finding peace and joy in Christ.
Second, Affluenza can ruin the character of a generation and even a nation. Look at the “Greatest Generation” they overcame the Great depression, fought WWII and were exemplary in their character and service to God and country. These were men and women who by and large grew up with very little in the way of material wealth.  John Steinbeck wrote a letter to Adlai Stevenson, which was recorded in the January 28, 1960, edition of the Washington Post. In it John Steinbeck said, “If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much, and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy, sick.”

Does that look like what you see today? Physiological surveys reveal that children raised in wealth show many symptoms of those raised in abject poverty, including depression and anxiety. They experience despair, sometimes attempting suicide.  They turn to alcohol, drugs, and addiction. It is largely attributed to the fact that their parents are often so busy making money and spending it that they have little meaningful time with their children.

Third, Affluenza can lead to less actual enjoyment of the possessions that one has. In the continual pursuit of more and better, the things you have today can’t be enjoyed because they are not good enough and you want something else. I have heard it said that contentment is not having all you want, but wanting all you have.

Now, I am a fellow who can appreciate a buffet. I particularly enjoy Wild Wings Café and their all you can eat wing buffet at lunch.  You should enjoy it too and you should take me there in appreciation for the writing I do, we will have a great time I promise just hit me up on Facebook and let me know! Seriously though, my problem is that when I go there I really enjoy the first plate of wings. The second plate, when I get all new flavors, I enjoy too. And though I should stop there, once my face and shirt are covered in wing sauce, you might as well make the most of it right? So, I move on to plates three and four, and all of sudden. I stop enjoying wings; I push away from the table and say “I don’t ever want wings again.” Unless of course you want to roll down there with me, in that case I am game!  My point is that things that are good in moderation can easily lose their appeal in excess. We are nation of excess and sadly nothing really makes us happy anymore.

So what are some things you can do to help combat Affluenza? First, I read one writer recommended taking a family trip to a land fill or garbage dump. The lines are shorter than at amusement parks, admission is free, and little boys love it. But as you and your family meander through stop and look at all the piles of “treasures” that were formerly Christmas and birthday presents. You see all the things that cost hundreds of dollars, children quarreled about, friendships were lost over, honesty was sacrificed for, and marriages broken up over. Then the entire family can realize that most of what your family owns will one day end up in a junkyard like this: Trash.

The writer of Hebrews summed it all up like this in Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." The knowledge of the unending and unfailing love of God should be your end all and be all! This will lead you down the right path to eradicating Affluenza in your life. There is one final step and it is the hardest for many and we will look in depth at it next week: giving. 

Pastor Phillip

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