Summary: Materialism vs. Spirituality

Do not let Materialism overtake Spirituality - Sermon Text

Rev. Dr. Michael H. Koplitz

Mark 6:7-13

7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff-- no bread, no bag, no money in their belt-- 9 but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 “Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

Jesus decided it was time for a test for his disciples. It was like they took the class Jesus 101, and it was time for Jesus 102. You may recall from your school days that the teacher would give a quiz in some of your classes to see how much you learned in the previous year. For example, when I took French level 2 in High School the first day, the teacher gave a quiz to determine how much French level 1 I remembered. You remember what happens during the summer months. It was work and play. Certainly not study time. So French and several other academic subjects suffered. Hey, it was summer break.

Jesus’ disciples had been with Him for some time. How much did they understand about His message and methodology? This was the question Jesus had in His mind. He called them together and told them that they were going to be sent out into the world. This was a test to see how much they had learned from Him and how much more wisdom did Jesus have to teach them.

There are several themes in this narrative. Materialism is one of them. Jesus had to get his disciples to divest themselves of material needs before becoming the builders of the Kingdom of Heaven. His disciples had some training on how to accomplish this. But the problem of Materialism existed. How could they be expected to release all of their beliefs about Materialism so quickly? Therefore, Jesus could have been testing them to learn how much work He needed to put into their re-education.

Materialism was a problem in Jesus’ day. The people who Jesus dealt with in Galilee were poor. They did not have very much of anything. It is challenging to live in this world and not be concerned about materials. After all, one does need food and shelter to live.

The test about the concern for material things was done by Jesus telling the disciples to go out and take nothing with them. They were not allowed to take any money nor any food with them. The problem is that there were no fast-food restaurants in Galilee. Actually, there were not any restaurants either. Restaurants did not exist in that area at that time. Even if a restaurant existed, they did not have any money. Have you ever tried to eat at a restaurant without cash or a credit card in your pocket? The owner of the restaurant would not be pleased that you could not pay your bill. You would probably be arrested and spend some time in the local jail. So, you would not consider doing this. So, with no money and no food, what were these men supposed to eat?

In the Near East, hospitality was a cultural norm. If a visitor knocked at your door and needed food, you immediately invited the person in and fed them. The lady of the house would bake two loaves of bread every day. A large loaf was for the family to consume. A second smaller loaf was reserved for a visitor. Indeed many days, a visitor did not come to the door. But the culture said that the lady of the house had to be prepared.

Thus the disciples had no problem finding food and water as they traveled throughout Galilee. How do we show hospitality today? There are food pantries set up at different churches in York county. We used to have one here at Bethany Church. Now we collect the blessings of excess that each of you brings to the church, and we send it to help feed hungry children in Red Lion. This is a beautiful blessing that we do. Over the centuries, the church has become a place where blessings are collected and shared with the world. Thank you for your support of hospitality to help these children. This is an example of how we take our Materialism and convert it into spiritualism.

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