affluenza, n. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by the pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth. (PBS)
This catchy name for an old malady connects a social disease with a prevelant virus caused illness. It is appropriate, as both are very contagous. I have watched in wonder as the the plague has spread across the world.
It has seemed strange to me that three fourths of the world’s population struggle to have food and clothing, while others are being destroyed by too much food, and too many things.
Mankind has a history of destroying himself with abundance and greed. Truly there is no satisfaction in getting things. The more one has, the more one seems to need to continue the quest to find fullfillment in possessions.
The world’s greatest teacher addressed the quest for possessions while speaking from a mountain in Galillee,
Matt 6:19-21--Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matt 6:24-33--No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? ----
Do not worry then, saying, "What will we eat?' or "What will we drink?' or "What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Jesus said that putting God first is the way to escape from the disease affluenza. It sounds easy, to put God first, but doing so goes against our inherient desire to be in control of things. Man wants to be his own god, and finds it difficult to fall at the feet of an invisible Creator. But the evidence of history reveals the truth of the words spoken by Jesus. God became a man in Jesus, and Jesus is approachable. His life defines what it means to give to others. We find contentment in being like Jesus.
The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy,
1 Tim 6:6-11--But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
So the cure for affluenza is loving and trusting God in Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote,
Phil 4:11-13--Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.