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hope for churches in stress


The word “affluenza” is a blend of two words, affluence and influenza. This melded word was popularized in a PBS documentary in 1997 and four years later in the book, Affluenza.

The book defines affluenza as "a painful, contagious, socially-transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”

Two millennia earlier, the apostle Paul issued a stiff warning against this affliction. To paraphrase the apostle, he wrote that even a hint of affluenza is improper for God’s holy people (Ephesians 5:3).

The cure is to live as children of the light, seeking always to please the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 5:8-10). Within this overall remedy, there are three primary biblical medications for affluenza.

One antidote is generosity, not everyday kindness, but bold liberality. To describe this daring level of open-handedness, Paul cites Macedonian Christians who, in extreme poverty themselves, gave more than they could afford, beyond their ability, to help believers in Jerusalem pressed by famine (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).

Another remedy is contentment. Paul gave this testimony: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” I have learned the secret of "being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).

A third cure is the pursuit of God. The sinful core of affluenza is the dogged pursuit of money. The corrective medication is a determined pursuit of God (Matthew 6:33). When we pursue God above all else as our highest calling, work and money and possessions take their proper place lower on our priority list.

Long before 2020, affluenza has been a worldwide pandemic. When we make the choice to live with generosity and contentment in pursuit of God, we discover the joy of trusting Christ in assurance of his promise: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Colds and other ailments are common in winter. To the extent we can, we take precautions against them. Even so, we usually manage to “catch” something. There are spiritual ailments to which we are susceptible any time of year. Whether we are afflicted by Affluenza, Drift, Grumps, Lite-headedness, or Sensualitis, God has provided a remedy for every spiritual malady.


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