The challenge of secular materialism is one that affects us all. It is nothing that the Gospel cannot overcome, but at the same time secular materialism does pose a threat to a life of faith in God. What do I mean by this?

One of the bases of secular materialism is a focus upon the things of this world. There is a decided lack of vision beyond our earthly pilgrimage to the rest of eternity. In fact, in its strongest form, secular materialism denies that there is an afterlife altogether. If we are to combat it effectively we will have to keep a clear mind as to the demands of the Gospel taking priority in our lives no matter how immediately attractive the lies of secular materialism become.

Perhaps the most insidious form of secular materialism is found in the way that it has infiltrated the Gospel in the form of a prosperity based religious life. Yes, God wants to bless us and even to bless us now, however, the ultimate blessings are ones that are reserved for eternal life! It is in heaven that the Christian’s ultimate reward lies and it is this focus that we must ensure we keep in all that we do in our earthly pilgrimage. The prosperity Gospel preachers rely upon the immediate appeal of a wealthy and comfortable life as the means by which they attract people to their flocks. I am not saying that wealth is bad, but that wealth can never be the ultimate focus.

The ultimate call upon every Christian’s life is the call to holiness. Holiness is completely independent of wealth! Both the wealthy and the poor can be holy. Herein lies our protection against secular materialism. If we are focused upon growing in holiness then we will avoid the traps posed by secular doctrines, especially as they seek to infiltrate the life of the Church. There is nothing wrong with working hard and becoming wealthy, but if it is at the expense of holiness then there is a huge problem as one’s salvation may be endangered. I am sure none of us want to be in that position!

The further trouble with too much of a focus upon wealth and blessings is simply that it is not Scriptural. When the Scriptures speak of the call to discipleship the focus is learning to live a disciplined and holy life. Jesus and Paul talk about taking up our crosses and following God’s will for our lives, not taking up our blessings and living a comfortable and easy life. Let us not be fooled by the promise of many blessings here and now if it is only going to deprive us of or endanger our receiving eternal life. There is no comparison between the two!

What is the focus of my life at the moment? Are my eyes fixed upon the promise of eternal life or have I been distracted a little by the lure of wealth and ‘blessings’ that may or may not last?

Holy Spirit, help me to set my focus upon the promise of eternal life and not any blessings that will pass away when I die. I want to be a disciple of Jesus and grow in holiness so that I can be sure that I am following the way that he has for my life.