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The Choke

• Greg Boyd

In America, we’ve been conditioned to always stretch our budget and time to get the next best thing. But God is calling us to a simpler lifestyle that will not choke our Kingdom purpose. In this sermon, Greg points out some practical tips to grow the Kingdom seed in our lives.

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We’ve been focusing on a message for simplicity for the past few weeks. We’ve learned that we live in a warzone, even though our culture wants us to think we’re constantly on vacation. And we’ve found that there are powers out there that want to make us constantly uncomfortable with where we are and to concentrate on keeping all of our stuff as well as striving for the next thing. Often, this leads to the detriment of our Kingdom purpose.

We are called to yield to the seed of the Kingdom of God in our lives. In Matthew, it describes ways that the seed is kept from growing. One of the ways, and the way in which America is most deceived, is the wealth of the world choking the life of the Kingdom. And it’s not that wealth inherently chokes out the seed of the Kingdom. Rather, it’s the deceptiveness of wealth.

The deceptiveness of wealth tells us that we never have enough. In the video we watched this week, there were constantly things that needed to be upgraded to feel satisfied. Most American families feel that tension to constantly improve what they have because our culture has conditioned us to never feel satisfied with where we are. Because we live in a warzone, this world wants to destroy the seed of the Kingdom in our lives.

To stop this choking, we first need to get all our life from Christ. This means that we need to be satisfied solely in Christ. Not in our possessions, our status, or our achievements. Only in Christ should we find our satisfaction. Without this, it doesn’t matter what things we change in our lives because the root problem will still be there.

Second, we need to start living with a warfare worldview. American culture is conditioned to live in a vacation lifestyle where we need to constantly be in comfort. But the Kingdom is under attack from the powers and authorities of the Enemy. And if we aren’t aware that we’re in a battle, we are doing ourselves and the Kingdom a disservice. We are allowing our seed to be choked.

Third, we need to break out habit cycles. We have grown accustomed to our vacation lifestyle in America. We need to break out of the habits that we’ve developed. Instead of buying the next new thing, we need to wake up to how we spend our money. Instead of spending all our time advancing careers or our own interests, we need to wake up to how we spend our time. Breaking these habit cycles is a key to living a different life.

Finally, we need to explore practical ways to change our lives with others. When we invite other people into the process, we can gain other creative ways of changing our own lives. We get new ideas that we might not be able to see ourselves. And, we gain someone who can help us walk through the changes.

We need to be careful and not let our Kingdom seed be choked out by the deceptiveness of wealth. It’s our life’s work to help that seed turn into a growing and thriving plant. To do that, we need to wake up to the ways in which we’ve been conditioned by our culture, especially the culture of consumerism that pervades America.

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Topics: Generosity, Greed, Simplicity

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Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 13:18-23

    18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

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7 thoughts on “The Choke

  1. Peter says:

    This current series of messages has been most appropriate….especially with ‘consumer Christmas’ season fast approaching.

    While the recent messages have been good they seem to say everything about the topic except the “I” word. Yes consumer-i-s-m plain and simple is idolatry.
    Idolatry is endemic in the human scene. Rarely is it exposed as idolatry. We use terms like ‘materialism,’ ‘consumer economy’ and the like, but we shy away from the word idolatry. It is natural enough seeing idolatry is a shameful thing in the ultimate. It is a rejection of the high nature of God for the lower thing which we adopt as our object of worship.

    We often associate idolatry with an historic worship of figurines or images where they are believed they have special powers. But ‘sophisticated’ man is deceived into thinking that this doesn’t apply to the new car, house, job or product and many others items that will improve his image to the extent that others will worship/admire him.

    It is so deceptive that as Greg and Sandra point out in their ‘Ultimate Compassion’ video (https://vimeo.com/8035930 – “Not Against Flesh and Blood: Practicing Spiritual Warfare in the Real World.”……..one of Greg’s best messages) that those who give up their possessions to be in ‘solidarity’ with the poor can then live in judgment of the rich for not doing likewise and justify their own actions….this sort of giving can only be done with a pure Christlike heart that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Only God needs to know.

    This leads onto another important aspect of consumerism, stewardship versus ownership. Consumerism points to ownership in your own kingdom and you dictate who has access to ‘your’ possessions if anyone. In God’s Kingdom it’s all about stewardship and the sharing of God’s gifts to meet the needs of others. The first Church had all things in common (Acts 2:44). God out of His goodness shares His resources with us and we should do likewise to meet other’s needs.

  2. Kevin says:

    As good ‘christian consumers’, we seem to take great pride in claiming that, “God has blessed the United States of America!” This understanding of our Father God needs to disappear from our vocabulary. God looks upon His children and does bless them; as for our fallen american system? I can’t see Him blessing our mess. Any ‘blessings’ we have over here are a direct result of the ‘our nation centered’ economic system along with it’s “power over” military protection. We need to stop crediting God for things we create. This nation’s M.O. was never, is not sanctioned by Him. God’s not blessing us, He’s calling us to repentance!

  3. Kathy D. says:

    Beautiful message. Thanks Greg, and for confronting consumerism.

    Dido Peter, especially with the secular version of ‘consumer Christmas’ coming. We don’t ‘do’ Christmas anymore, no holiday gift buying, no Christmas cards. There are too many pagan connections to the way the world celebrates the most important event in history. Celebrating Christ’s birth, death and resurrection for me should be an everyday thing.

    Someone or something suffered to bring us our ‘stuff.’ Whether it be cheap labor in sweatshops, rainforests being cleared to make packaging or “cherry wood furniture”, plastic that comes at a high price to the environment and our oceans and ultimately to our own lives, metal to make all the various gadgets, electronics, and cars and the like which destroys someone’s habitat, clearing forests and animal homes to bring us our wood, the list goes on and on – it all comes with a “price.”

  4. Patrick Halferty says:

    God bless You!

    The video’s do not play thru to the end. Even when I refresh the page they still cut out. Is there something I can do??

    Really appreciate you posting the sermons.

    Patrick Halferty

  5. Connor Unger says:

    Hey Patrick,

    Very sorry about that! We’re having some server issues on our end that we hope to have ironed out soon. You can read more about it and stay updated by checking here: http://whchurch.org/blog/9718/were-experiencing-technical-difficulties

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