2.9.1 Strength Against Materialism

2.9 The Kingdom of God will come. We must live as if it is imminent. It will last for ever. By God's grace, we really will be there.

2-9-1 Strength Against Materialism

Therefore we won't be pre-occupied with building up a career or business for ourselves in this life; we will shun materialism and the associated effort which it demands. If we selfishly build up our own possessions through ignoring the needs of others, we have denied the Faith- even if we hold on to a clear understanding of the doctrines (1 Tim. 5:8). Loving money is erring from the Faith- again, even though we may keep our theoretical understanding (1 Tim. 6:10). It is perhaps intentional that three times in the same section in 1 Tim., Paul speaks of those who leave the Faith; once he speaks of this in the context of doctrinal error (1 Tim. 6:21); the other two references (5:8; 6:10) concern leaving the Faith through being materialistic, whilst holding on to true doctrines. The point is, the one is as bad as the other. The fact the Kingdom will be on earth not in Heaven is not just incidental. It means that we now, as we live on this planet which will be our eternal possession, will not strive for present possession of it, neither will be swayed by the pressure groups and political groups who only look at the state of the world as it now is. " The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again [because he dies before he can repay his mortgage?]: but the righteous dealeth graciously, and giveth. For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth" (Ps. 37:21,22 RV). Exactly because we will inherit this planet gives us strength against materialism; it means that we will be generous; we will not focus our lives upon temporarily buying a spot of land which in any case we will eternally inherit.

Everyone who has this hope will therefore purify himself in anticipation of its realization, and in appreciation of his current separation from the things of the present order (1 Jn. 3:3). By having this hope, we find strength against materialism and " draw nigh to God" (Heb. 7:19); and the Hebrew readership would have understood this as meaning 'drawing nigh in priestly service' (cp. Ex. 19:22). The Hope we have compels us to God's service. And that same Hope inspires us to repentance, too. For if He is soon to return, what manner of persons ought we to be? And so Mt. 10:7 and Mk. 6:12 parallel preaching the soon coming of the Kingdom with preaching repentance.

The Jews of the first century perceived the Kingdom of God as about to come: and, they thought, it would be a time of political freedom from Rome and material prosperity for them personally. The Lord Jesus plugged in to this perception, but He redefined their view of the Kingdom as a time of personal, physical benefit. He spoke of it as a time of peace, a time when God's principles would triumph, and in this sense He used a word for it which means more a reign than a realm; the triumph of God's principles over flesh can begin right now in a quiet way, in the hearts of those who will be in the future Kingdom.

The hope of the future Kingdom means that we will not now be materialistic. It will give us strength against materialism. And the model prayer was given by Jesus in the context of His comment on how some tend to always be asking God for material things. The Lord teaches that the paramount thing we should request is the coming of the Kingdom, and our forgiveness so that we might partake in it. This is the request we should be making- for " Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of…after this manner therefore pray ye…" (Mt. 6:9,10). Later in Mt. 6 the Lord repeats the same words: " Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things…seek ye first his Kingdom" (Mt. 6:32-34 RV). The structure of the Lord's prayer reflects this- for the first and only request in it is a seeking for the coming of His Kingdom. Having warned against materialism, the Lord bids His men to “rather seek ye the Kingdom of God...it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Lk. 9:31,32) in the place of seeking for material things. The more we grasp that it really is God’s will that we will be there, the more strength we will have to resist seeking for material things in this life. By being sure that we will be there, the Kingdom becomes our treasure, where our heart is, rather than any material treasure in this life (Lk. 9:34). The RV of Heb. 10:34,35 brings out well the same theme: " Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions, knowing that ye have your own selves for a better possession" (RVmg). Who we ourselves will be turned into is our better possession, " a better possession and an abiding one" (RV). And this compensates for the loss of material possessions in this life. Therefore the writer urges them to not cast away their confidence in the receipt of this reward at the Lord's return (:35). The more humbly confident we are in receiving the Kingdom, the less the loss of possessions now will mean to us. Hebrews also associates the hope of the Kingdom with the characteristic of patience in the small things of this life. Hence Job, when he lost his hope, could exclaim: " What is mine end, that I should be patient?" (Job 6:11 RV).

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