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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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THREATENED BY THINGS

Mark Twain once defined civilization as "a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities." In our market-driven, materialistic culture we are being g inundated with "necessities" which former generations of human beings found unnecessary. I read somewhere that it has been estimated that 100 years ago the average citizen had 72 wants and rated 16 of these as necessities. In contrast, the average citizen today has 484 wants of which 94 are considered necessities. Americans are being g consumed by an epidemic of consumption. In their book, Affluenza: the All-consuming Epidemic (published in 2001) authors John de Graaf, David Waan and Thomas H. Naylor write, "The American appetite for fun, food, and fixtures is bizarre....  When we go to the supermarket, we can choose from an average 30,000 items, two and one half times more today than in 1980. Other purchases that used to be extras are now must-haves: microwave ovens, videotape recorders, compact disc players, cell phones, fax machines, personal computers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, hair blowers, etc." (excerpt published in "Current thoughts and Trends," 1/02, p 7).  Many people would add to that list such things as text messaging, call-waiting, call-forwarding, caller I'D, laptop computers, high speed Internet service, e-mail, voice-mail, wide-screen TV, high definition TV, TV and/or satellite dish service with dozens of channels of programming, CD's and DVD's and I-Pods and MP3's and ATM's!

Not all "things" are bad, of course, since 1 Timothy 6:17 affirms God "gives us richly all things to en joy." But the Bible also warns "things" can become a threat to our souls. First John 2:15 summarizes the threat "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." John's warning is that I can be in love with God, or I can be in love with the things of the world but I can't be in love with both at the same time (see Matthew 6:24). Someone once told that the moon in a total eclipse complained to the sun: "Why dost thou not shine on me as usual?" The sun replied, "I am shining as I always do. But the earth has gotten between us." This world and all the "things" it has to offer has indeed come between many people and God. Things are well and good in their place but things can take God's place. That's when things become a threat.

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3a-2).

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ