Marxists, Materialists, or Mature Christian Disciples?

April 11, 2013 — 7 Comments

Logo Transparent jpeg without words“I am somewhat disappointed in your children. Since they are Christians, I expected that they would be concerned about spiritual things. Instead, they are more materialistic than the Marxist youth in my country. They seem to be devoid of any lofty, idealistic vision.” And this coming from a Marxist!

 

In his book Wake Up America!: Answering God’s Radical Call While Living in the Real World Tony Campolo tells about once giving a group of top educators from the old Soviet Union a tour of his ministry’s work. The group included the rectors of two very prestigious universities and the Russian Deputy Minister of Education. Tony showed them their children’s programs, their youth clubs, even their Christian school for disadvantaged children.

Finally, after a long day of visits, interviews, and much note taking, they joined in a time of debriefing. Tony asked them what they thought about what they had observed throughout the day. Their response was surprising. “These teenagers are so materialistic!” they remarked. “All that these young people talked about was making money.” The Deputy Minister of Education added, somewhat hesitantly, “I am somewhat disappointed in your children. Since they are Christians, I expected that they would be concerned about spiritual things. Instead, they are more materialistic than the Marxist youth in my country. They seem to be devoid of any lofty, idealistic vision.” And this coming from a Marxist!

Tony reflected upon this experience:
“I asked myself if Christian kids in America have always been this way. . . Has the spirit of idealism departed from our collective consciousness without our being aware of it? Can it be that, in an era when religion has become one of the most prominent features of our culture, we Americans have lost our guiding inner light and lofty calling?
. . . I have to admit that I sense that something has been lost to America. I have a feeling that the sacredness of our national character has been ‘slipsliding’ away.”

I’m afraid Tony may be right. And our children learned it from their parents! It’s not just the secular materialists in our country. Many church pews are packed on Sunday with materialists who claim to be Christians. The conversations around the church coffee pot are much the same as those around the company water cooler. Maybe a few less curse words, but just as materialistic.

I love the title to Campolo’s book: Wake Up America! Answering God’s Radical Call While Living in the Real World. But I’m afraid most Christians don’t even realize that God’s call is a radical call.

Let’s get personal for just a moment. Do YOU feel that God has a radical call on your life? How are you responding to that call? Do you have a “spirit of idealism” as mentioned by Tony Campolo? Have you lost your “lofty, idealistic vision?” Would you consider yourself a materialist or do spiritual matters mean the most in your life? I invite you to respond in the Comments section below.

Dr. Gary Thompson

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I am a retired United Methodist pastor. I write adult curriculum for the United Methodist Church and have been doing so for over 10 years. My passion is helping the Christian Church more effectively fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ and to help individuals identify and fulfill their God-given personal mission.

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  • Ron Furgerson

    This is a very thoughtful article and I’m grateful for the heads-up on this Campolo book. It reminds me somewhat of the book by Kyle Idleman, Gods at War, which is all about idolatry, which is what materialism is at its root. Again, thanks for this posting. <

  • Sharon S

    I do realize that there is a radical call on my life to make disciples. I mentor teenagers and realize that they are looking to me. What do they see? Someone following Christ at all costs, living the abundant life? Or do I look like the rest of the world? Jesus said narrow is the way and few find it – I can see where this is true. I have been responding to this call by getting out of my comfort zone. God has spotlighted the fact that I have been a different person at work than I am at home or at church. Why do I still try to belong to the crowd? Do I really love Jesus like I say I do? Spiritual matters mean the most to me. I don’t care about chasing the American dream. If I could, I would quit my job and minister to people, especially young people, full time. That is my dream. But God has not opened that door. So I wait on the Lord, pursue spiritual maturity, speak openly to others about Jesus, love on some teenagers at church, and take care of my family. God is not finished with me yet :)

  • Bryan Carlile

    I believe your correct. With our ministry broadcasting Christian programming, that has been a big concern of us. Trying to find a way that from the smaller child to the young adult keeping their focus on Christ and off from material things or issues. Here in America from the schools to the public, they are constantly being attacked from all directions.

  • http://twitter.com/DrGaryT Gary Thompson

    Thanks, Ron, for your encouragement. Sharon, God may be wanting to use you right where you are. As one who has spent much of my life in “full-time ministry” I can tell you that God sometimes uses the “laity” in even greater ways. Working in “secular” jobs often brings you into contact with those who need your “ministry.” I will pray that God gives you a clear sense of direction and the awareness of the difference you are making in the lives of others.

  • http://twitter.com/DrGaryT Gary Thompson

    Bryan, we are all under constant attack by the spirit of materialism. Of course, there is nothing really new about this expect possibly the strength of the attack. Advertisers have become experts.

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