Clayton is a member of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, Michigan. A scholarship essay for 2000.
Christ is coming: “for the time is at hand!” (Rev. 1:3b) It is to this end that all things exist and occur. For the child of God this is a glorious reality. However, in light of this glorious reality the child of God must heed the warnings of scripture concerning dangers that we face in our present world as the end approaches. The gravest danger we face, especially our young people, is that we become worldly-minded (Matt. 6:19-20). The devil seeks to keep our minds on our present state and off of spiritual matters which are of God. If the Lord wills that I become a pastor of one of His congregations, one of the biggest challenges I will face is instructing young people how to live in these end times.
Worldly-mindedness manifests itself in two forms of materialism. The first type of materialism is an ideological perspective which acknowledges only physical reality. The only things that man can know are the tangible things of this world. There is no room for God or spiritual things. Though this is a very serious error, the second type of materialism is even more dangerous for Protestant Reformed youth.
The second type of materialism is not a set of abstract beliefs; it takes place concretely every day—even within the church. This type of materialism consists of an almost insatiable pursuit of worldly possessions. In the United States today with our ever-growing economy people are going wild chasing after money and things. Sadly, the adults who over extend themselves on credit, so that they can buy a bigger house, a fancier car, a new set of golf clubs, etc., have taught young people to find comfort and satisfaction in earthly things. The young people have thoroughly learned this lesson. Their segment of the population is bent on buying things. Our own Protestant Reformed young people wear the latest fashions and drive the fancy sports cars. In themselves these things are not wrong and are not to be condemned. Christians can buy and sell without being motivated by materialism, but the danger of materialism creeping in is ever present and very real.
The real danger in this type of materialism, as well as in the first type, is that God and spiritual things are altogether forgotten. This is the mistake the rich man made in the parable Jesus told in Luke 12. God punished this man for not thinking to give unto the Lord who owned and took back all that the rich man possessed. It is important for our young people to understand, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” (Psalm 24:la). He gives us a short time to live on His earth, yet it is quickly forgotten that we are but pilgrims and sojourners. We naturally think only of the here and now and give no thought to our eternal dwelling place.
The fact that we are pilgrims and sojourners constantly needs to be brought to the attention of our young people. The world would have them think it is foolishness to prepare for future events. Why think ahead when you can have instant gratification in the flesh through material things? This then is the danger that worldly-mindedness poses to our young people. The world seeks to snare them in strap so that they no longer know who Christ is. This is what the end times are all about; the world seeks to increase its iniquity and deny God, while the church, the bride of Christ, patiently hopes and waits for the bridegroom.
This is not the first time the church has waited for Christ to come. The Old Testament Israelites fervently awaited the coming Messiah. As they waited, they faced the same dangers of worldly-mindedness we face today. The Israelites so often turned away from God and to the world that God sent judgment on them through the surrounding nations. Let this be a warning to our young people too that commitment to Christ cannot wait until they are married or until they make profession of faith or for some other future time and place. God’s judgment is swift and we must “give account of every idle word (Belgic Conf., Article 37).”
To this exhortation of God’s judgment it must be added again that Christ is absent from worldly-mindedness. This is the testimony of scripture concerning the Jewish leaders during Christ’s life and ministry here on earth. These leaders knew the Old Testament scriptures concerning the coming Messiah. They even earnestly sought out the Messiah. Yet, they did not recognize Christ when he came because of their worldly-mindedness. These Jewish leaders were comfortable in their positions of power. They did not seek a Messiah who would teach of a heavenly kingdom rather than an earthly kingdom. They wanted a Messiah who would regain for Israel an earthly dominance and perhaps increase them in their worldly positions.
The knowledge of Christ coming into this world is spiritual. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth concerning spiritual matters in 1 Corinthians 2. These matters are beyond the comprehension of “the princes of this world” (vs. 8), and are revealed “unto us by his Spirit” (vs. 10). Here we have the truth of election applied to our ability to know and recognize Christ as He presently rules all of creation at the right hand of God, and as he prepares to come again. The world does not receive the spirit of Christ and is left in worldly-mindedness, while the church receives the spirit of Christ (H.C. LD III Q&A 8) and no longer seeks after the things of the world. Therefore, since our young people know that the world is full of only evil continually and does not possess the mind of Christ, we must teach them to constantly seek after spiritual things, specifically the coming of Christ when we will no longer face temptation and will be made perfect before God.
In John 10 Christ explains to the Pharisees that they are not of His sheep and cannot recognize Him as the Son of God. May our young people find comfort knowing that by the grace of God they are given to Christ as His sheep and on the day of his coming they will recognize his voice.