America is the most affluent nation in the history of the world. And affluence is at once wonderful and perilous in its potential. Listen to what Michael Ramsden has to say:
Our affluent culture looks for ease in everything. Comfort is prized more than anything else. In his book, The Challenge of Affluence, Professor Avner Offer makes the observation that moral prudence is required in order to build up affluence and wealth. However, affluence gives rise to temptation. Temptation, if not morally recognized and resisted, gives rise to indulgence. Indulgence eats up wealth. Hence, the “rewards of affluence produce the disorders of affluence.” (Finish the Mission, 79)
The rewards of affluence produce the disorders of affluence. Isn’t that the lesson of Jesus’s parable of the rich fool who built bigger barns (Luke 12:13–21)? The disorders of affluence can be very, very serious.
Which means that those of us who live in America live in a dangerous place. It isn’t that affluence is evil. It is the way our sinful heart craves it that’s evil:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
The most deadly disorder of affluence is idolatry. We prize it more than God because we believe it will satisfy us more than God.
So what do affluent Americans (and everyone else) do? We must morally recognize affluent temptations. Which means we need the antidote of biblical truth. We need frequent reminders that our mission in life is not to lay up treasures and comforts for ourselves but to be rich toward God (Luke 12:21) and to help as many others as possible acquire “true riches” (Luke 16:11).
The book, Finish the Mission, is one really helpful reminder; an antidote against affluent disorders. Just to read Michael Ramsden’s chapter on “Christ, Courage, and Finishing the Mission” would alone be worth getting the book. But there is truth gold (“true riches”) in what Louie Giglio, David Platt, Michael Oh, Ed Stetzer, John Piper, and David Mathis write as well. And this is the kind of book that would work well as a group study.
So if you are a leader and think this would be helpful to your folks, we are making it available by the case for a very low suggested donation.
Whatever you do, take the danger of this disorder seriously. You are vulnerable to it. Don’t let affluence make you impoverished of God.