Imagine having everything you ever wanted. Like me you might have a wish-list that’s useful for when people want to get you a birthday present. Multiply all those kind of wishes and just envisage getting it all.
Now ask yourself this question. Am I now satisfied?
Chances are, if you take the challenge seriously and the next day several huge lorries turn up to unpack the stuff, you’ll get giddy with excitement for a while, then you get to mess around with the stuff and enjoy those precious moments of the novelty value. Eventually, however, you’ll realise that once that novelty has worn off, really you’re not that much better off than you were before. Sure you have the memories, but at heart, it doesn’t really make that much difference to your state of affairs.
I mention that because in this hugely commercialised and materialistic culture of ours we can get caught up on the quest for the accumulation of material possessions. Take the definition of poverty. Back in the day poverty was a state where you literally destitute – without food, housing or clothing. Nowadays, although people still ‘exist’ in that state, we’ve also described people who cannot afford certain modern conveniences as falling in the bracket of poor.
Listening to some people complain about their financial circumstances adorned in a fairly good looking set of clothes and about to embark on a journey in their huge petrol-guzzling vehicle sounds a bit odd. Combined with some people’s extensive shoe collection or available disposable cash for going out over the weekend and those holidays abroad just makes me think if we’ve got things slightly awry.
At this point I could connect it with the financial crisis afflicting a large number of countries and suggest that the debt problem is symptomatic of a society that prizes the acquisition of material goods as a definition of being blessed and are infatuated with money, even when they don’t have it. I could make that connection.
Yet what is really important remains the words that Jesus said regarding similar issues he faced in his day,
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. Luke 12:15
When you check the context it doesn’t sound all that different to the culture of claiming as much as you can with the help of the courts. A lot of society seems to be wrapped up in this quest for defining by riches and stuff. That is why for the follower of Christ it remains all the more important to keep it simple.
That does not mean neglecting stuff if it’s coming your way as a result of God, it’s just to remember that the goal remains God and not the stuff. When it remains as simple as that, then whether you’re poor (as in really poor) or rich (as in by the world’s standards) your contentment remains in the simple knowledge of God and His love for you.
It remains the challenge of the church to be a beacon of that community of faith that values the heavenly riches far higher than any earthly wealth.
For His Name’s Sake