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The Danger of Materialism

My father was born in 1879 in the Highlands of Scotland. He was brought up in the Free Church of Scotland, and was converted in his youth. There being a large family, my father moved to Glasgow in search of work, and began to attend bible studies in Shiloh Hall, Glasgow, where he first learned the need for biblical baptism as taught in the New Testament, and was baptised. He met with the brethren until 1922, when he once more moved to the Highlands, where I was born. In 1930 my parents again moved to a farm near Glasgow, where we remained until moving to Brasil in 1952.

My father was most interested in children´s work, and loved to be present at the Sunday School, although living 7km from the assembly. We, my brother and I, were taught to reverence the Lord and His Word. In fact, in those days Scotland was called “Bible-loving Scotland” . Unfortunately those days have gone.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour in January of 1938, and in 1939 the second world war began, and lasted till 1945, so that my youth was spent under the shadow of war, when there were many restrictions and hardships, but life went on.

Our assembly was formed of middle-class brethren who worked harmoniously together. There was no full-time worker in the assembly, but each one developed the gift that God had given him, some teaching, others preaching, others helping in the Sunday School, youth work, etc. There was a special meeting on Sunday night for wounded members of the forces who were patients in a local hospital. I was baptised during the war, and soon after began to help the brethren, accompanying a children´s evangelist in his various campaigns.

In the 19th and 20th centuries there were various revivals in Britain, and, soon after, a great desire to evangelize publicly and from house to house. Between the two world wars there were few cars, and the believers walked to the meetings, at the same time seeking to speak of the Lord where they lived, studied and worked.

Many young folks felt the need to take the Good News to other lands — India, Africa and South America. The brethren in our assembly liked to invite missionaries to give a report of the Lord´s work, and we were thrilled to hear of the difficulties and triumphs of the Gospel in other lands. I believe that evangelistic campaigns are one of the things that unite the Lord´s people, when all are doing their utmost to see souls convicted and saved. The missionaries who left Scotland had the same desire in the countries wshere they went with the Gospel, they were truly pioneers.

Soon after the war ended there was a great scarcity of houses, and the government began to build housing schemes, and there was a great transfer of population, taking many far from the assembly, but this did not cause problems, because of the existence of cars.

Gradually the people began to lose their fear of the Lord and respect for the Bible, families broke up, and society became MATERIALISTIC. They thought of their rights, comfort, pleasure, holidays, etc. The attitude of society affected the religious life of the country, and many national church premises were sold, resulting in many people with no knowledge of the Bible. In fact, many do not know what the Bible is!

Such attitudes also affected the brethren, and many became disheartened, but thankfully there is a remedy for discouragement, which is to look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and God is blessing His testimony. They began to evangelize more vigourously, and became a positive influence in the neighbourhood, resulting in God calling more young folks to full-time service.

I am writing this that we may give thanks to God, that this form of MATERIALISM has so far. not arrived in Brasil. Brethren, possessions, or the lack of them, is not the problem, but it is how we use our possessions, and we are thankful that we are learning that he who is faithful in LITTLE, is also faithful in much. The christians in Macedonia gave us a good example when “in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality”. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.

There are certain things that, as an assembly, we must remember:

We must be ready to explain why we meet in this way, and be accessible to those who are CONFUSED because of the religious situation in Brasil.
We must explain clearly that God has a plan for His people. The plan is found in the New Testament.
To go beyond the plan or lag behind the plan will be prejudicial.
Criticise those who worked faithfully, or who are now with the Lord, is not good. We must remember that Hebrews 11 praises the acts of faith of those saints of the past, without commentating on their faults.
Remember that the methods of presenting the message change, but message is the same, and is the only one that can save souls.
This being the case, we must do our utmost to present the GOSPEL and LIVE in accordance with it. Brethren, it is so easy to SPEAK, but difficult to LIVE.
We must evangelize always, but sometimes have an evangelistic campaign so that all members take part in the distribution of invitations and literature and bringing people to hear the GOSPEL. Such an effort UNITES THE MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY.
Evangelism should not be restricted to preaching in the assembly, but we must take advantage of ALL OCCASIONS.
In closing, allow me to quote the words of T. Renshaw, father of A. Renshaw of Casa Branca, Brasil:- “Our local companies give their most appropriate expression to scriptural teaching when they practice and preach the truth in love. There is nothing dated or irrelevant about New Testament church principles. Occasionally, however, I have heard them handled with abrasive harshness. This is inexcusable...... Let´s remember that many saintly believers are to be found outside our circles. If they cross our paths or attend our meetings, we should show them every love and kindness....... They should find amongst us an authenic fore-taste of the spiritual kinship which will be fully realised when the Lord returns”. May it be so!