“With all the persecution here,” I asked the President of the Baptist Union in Belarus, “how does the church in your country survive?” I waited as the Russian translator conveyed my question and received my reply: “With all the materialism in your country, how does the church survive?” he responded. I hadn’t considered that angle, of course, but ever since I’ve recognized the parallel temptation.
If, on the one hand, the culture is hostile to Christ, it gives you a choice: deny Christ , provide information to the police on your activities (names, addresses, contacts) and find work; or continue to follow Jesus and face interrogation, harassment, and job loss. You are tempted to give in for advantage.
If, on the other hand, the culture approves of Christianity, you have the opportunity to relax, gain wealth, prosper, and even expand your enterprises. Now we face the opposite temptation–to make an idol of our success.
How could God allow Satan to persecute Job so? we wonder. Many have objected to this part of his story because of the picture it draws of God. Yet Job’s test places our temptation to idolize success in stark relief. Like us, Job comes from a position of affluence. Compared to much of the world’s people, we enjoy an opulent life. Satan predicts Job’s ultimate disloyalty: “Lay a hand on all that he has and he will blaspheme You to Your face” (1:12). Remove our material props, and how would we respond?
No, we don’t face brutal repression as Christians in some countries do, but we do face the slow drift from focus on Christ to preoccupation with our goods, earning a living, and our pleasure.
What tempts you most to take your eyes from Jesus?