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The New York Times recently published an article on a group of Japanese gypsies who are finding ways around the radiation zone barrier where the reactor spilled out all its radiation, and these people are going in, just for a few minutes at a time, to get what people left behind when the area was evacuated. They’ll go in for half an hour one week, an hour the next week, and what the doctors are finding is that even though they appear to be absolutely healthy on the outside, they’re exposing themselves to such high levels of radiation that they’re dying from the inside out. The radiation levels, even with that once-in-a-while exposure, is eating away at the marrow of their bones, shriveling them up, and it’s just a matter of time before they just die.
When Jesus visited the seventh church, Laodicea, He found an equally dangerous condition. The Laodiceans weren’t just going into the radiation zone once a week. They were living there. They were so consumed with the acquisition of stuff, with the piling up of riches, that they were living right in the radiation zone of materialism.
Materialism doesn’t sound all that dangerous to us here in America. It’s not one of those overtly repulsive sins. It’s one of the acceptable ones, and we even treat it as a virtue, both here in America, and they did it back in Laodicea. But Jesus says it’s shriveling the marrow and no matter how healthy we look on the outside, anyone who exposes themselves to radioactive material is risking their life. If materialism sounds less serious or less sickening to Christ than spiritual neutrality or spiritual self-sufficiency, think again.
To understand the danger that Jesus saw when He found the Laodiceans living in the radiation zone of materialism, we have to go back to what the world’s wisest man said about the dangers of wealth.