I don’t believe humans have the capacity to describe God and declare knowledge of the details of his existence. So just keep that in mind while you read this. : )
I mentioned that the sermon the other day was about giving. Giving not just “what we have left over” but giving our “charitable responsibility” to those who need it. Sounds awfully similar to taxes…but I’ll steer clear of that discussion. Yesterday, I impulse bought a new pair of boots from TJMAx. I mean, I saw them, I walked around the store with them, tried them on, put them back on the shelf, came back, snatched them and bought them. THEN I wore them in the same day to church. I almost never impulse buy, and furthermore, I never wear something newly purchased in the same day. I like to let it linger in my closet for a while, soaking in the newness of something, anticipating the chance to wear it. (Anyone else? No? Just me?)
I want to talk about materialism. I grew up in a very materialistic society, my little corner of the country (a suburb in South Carolina) was saturated with trends. One month it was ponchos (oh was that a bad one…) then it was Vera Bradley bags, then it was Ugg boots (even though it rarely got below 32), then boat shoes. Fads were ever-changing and I always felt one step behind the crowd.
Then I moved to Montana, where the community didn’t really care about these fads. I have a few theories behind this – for one, we simply don’t have as many options for shopping, and secondly, it’s so freaking cold in the winter that if it’s not practical, it won’t fly in sub-zero temps. I stopped wearing as much makeup, I didn’t mind re-wearing an outfit now and again. I noticed a drastic difference in my views after not having cable, where I was bombarded with advertising and goods. My favorite channel was (guilty!) Bravo. I shamefully loved, and still do from time to time, the Housewives shows. Not to trash the people on the shows, but do you think they avoid materialism? Hardly. I found myself thinking about the future with things like, “I can’t wait to have a house with a hot tub and a big walk in closet, like that picture I saw on Pinterest.”
It’s difficult today, where advertising rules, to separate our happiness from objects. But it is necessary if we hope to place our joy in the hands of God. The things we own are nice and we should not feel guilty about being in possession of them. But we should not attest our happiness to them. God, and God alone, can give us that.
There are plenty of readings in scripture that wink at this. To name a couple: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25) “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)
I think many Christians take these to mean that God detests the wealthy. I don’t agree and do not think this is fitting, I think God is disappointed in those that place their happiness in material things, rather than Him, which are more likely people to be who have more wealth.
Let us be careful to remember that our well-being and happiness does not lie in having the best clothes (and new boots), or the biggest house, or the shiniest jewelry; but rather in Christ and His resolute love.