One of the reasons for the decline of Christianity in Western Europe (since 1675) alongside rationalism, spiritualism, extreme pietism, liberal theology and ect, is a growing materialism in the culture. (I wrote on the decline of Christianity in Western Europe due to the first three reasons I mentioned for a church history class and will post that after my class ends but for now let us be honest with ourselves and gaze briefly at this issue.) People focused much on their “stuff.” In eastern cultures, Christianity, though opposed, is flourishing. Why?
Because God is all those people have and it is in that position they realize He is all they need. In Western culture (W.Europe & the United States), self-centeredness runs rampant and materialism is the crutch on which our society leans but we, as believers in Jesus Christ, know the ground of all things artificial or man-made is just sinking sand. “Stuff” started to consume the thoughts, the time and the lives of the Western Europeans, as it has here, and in turn God is replaced, as the center of worship, with animate objects. People are consumed with satisfying their cravings that come in the forms of objects that will be the future things of yard sales and garbage dumps. This is idolatry, a subject I hope to write much on. I must admit that I have been guilty of this very thing. I have obsessed over materialistic things: a new truck, a new laptop, money, ect, but I pray that I will not fall into such petty idolatry now and in the future. There is more to our existence than just working for and getting “stuff” for our temporary satisfaction. We must stand on the solid rock that is Jesus. When we lose everything, our cars, houses, clothes, family members, luxuries (computers, vacations, video games, jewelry, phones), we still have Jesus Christ. Why worship objects that come from the creation when you can be in an everlasting covenant with the Creator? Does it matter if your phone is the newest edition of the iPhone or newer than mine? No, because it too shall break or be replaced in the near future with something bigger and better. The same goes for cars and houses. Please do not misunderstand me. I don’t think it is wrong to have nice things but I don’t want to lust after them. I don’t want to be consumed with a desire for them. [Another thing: affording nice things is one thing and it is different than going into debt to have them (more idolatry: see American credit card statistics).] I don’t want to obsess over “stuff” like people who lust after actors or musicians or athletes (which is most definitely idolatry as well), like a dog that salivates for a bone. God alone is worthy of my worship and praise. My joy is not found in something that can be lost or taken from me. True joy is to be found in Christ; an authentic, personal relationship with the God of the universe. Rich or poor, in this life and the next, I stand on THE Rock. Materialism is an unsatisfying, repetitious cycle of lusting for what is the newest, biggest, and best. When something newer, bigger and better comes out we then desire that. Wave after wave, consumers try to stay afloat. Sadly, those who embrace this culture will assuredly drown in it. The waves of idolatry are too violent and the sea of materialism too deep to swim with any chance of survival.