In our 21st century American culture, we are faced with the overwhelming desire to accumulate possessions. Capitalism has rationalized materialism. How should Christians live within the boundaries of our culture without living within the clutches of its prime influence?
About a week ago, a friend of mine at work told me that his parent’s house had burned down. They lost everything. It really hurt my heart to think that these people, who I have never met, had all of their belongings ripped catastrophically from them. My friend told me that his parent’s biggest loss, from their own point of view, was the death of their pets. Isn’t this true, though, that life’s most important treasures are relationships?
After reflecting, it has given an entire community a chance to give. The victims of this fire now have a testimony of grace from close friends and from people whom they’ve never met. Even more than the testimony, they have a chance to learn how to truly and practically trust God for their provision. The former materialist and extorter, Matthew writes in chapter 6:
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I am convicted, to my shame, that my life is too influenced by the culture’s draw for the things of this world. Had it been my house that had burned, I can only imagine the pools of self-pity in which I would be swimming. But in this realization, I hope to live with a Heavenly perspective, since I’ll not be taking anything with me beyond the Pearly Gates anyway.
Randy Alcorn in his book, The Treasure Principle, puts it something like this: if you had lived in South Carolina in 1865 would you put your investment futures in Confederate currency or Union money? The south was on the verge of defeat, and as we know today, Wal-mart does not accept confederate money (although they’ll probably be accepting pesos soon…but that’s a different blog entry). Just like confederate currency, when the kingdom is fulfilled, today’s stuff, which we crave and horde, will have no value. (having said all of this, I would encourage you to keep an off-site computer backup of your important data in case a fire strikes your stuff.)