Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who's In Charge Here?

     Recently, I've been reading a book, or rather listening to an audiobook by George R. Stewart titled Earth Abides. It has, thus far been an excellent book. I dislike how the author seems to label any belief in the supernatural as, "superstition", but, nevertheless, it is an excellent and well written story.
     In the book the main character, "Ish"- short for Isherwood- is sitting in the home of his friend and noticing all of the very nice lamps, clocks, televisions, and radios that adorn the home. Ish considers that all these things are nice, but non functional due to a loss of electricity. He further considers that his friend clearly obtained the items as status symbols rather than for their functionality. 
     In this story, I saw an almost disturbing parallel in my own life, and in our culture. I thought about how many things I own simply because they were popular at the moment. I thought about how much money is spent every year upgrading cell phones. (Yeah, says the guy who typed part of this post on his brand new iPhone.)
     We see new technology, new cars, and bigger, more luxurious homes as the panacea for the void in our lives. We live in a culture built on images that lie. We see advertisements and pictures that make us feel that our worth as a person is based on what we own, rather than the truth. Do we wear the right makeup, or the right clothes? Do we have the right phone, the right car, or the right television set? If not, we feel, somehow, less than others. Are we skinny enough? Do we have enough muscles? Even our musicians and artists can see the shallowness of this way of viewing the world. They see that we have a major problem in our society with material things.  A song called Ain't No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant has lyrics that are telling:

      There ain't no rest for the wicked
Money don't grow on trees
I got bills to pay
I got mouths to feed
Ain't nothing in this world for free
No I can't slow down
I can't hold back
Though you know I wish I could
No there ain't no rest for the wicked
Until we close our eyes for good 
     You see, even the writers of this song can see the serious and flawed level of commitment in acquiring. We often can't slow down, and can't hold back any sacrifice of time, effort, or relationship with family to gain more money, more stuff, and more perceived security. 
     It doesn't take long going down this road to find that it leads to nowhere.
     That is why Christ does not call us to seek our "thrills" in possessions money. He calls us to be in relationship with him, to place him first in our lives. So often we spend our time coveting that new mobile device or car so much that our attention, even our hearts, are stolen by that new, better thing. In the end, our stuff ends owning us, rather than the other way around. This is nothing less than idolatry.
     I am often guilty of this, putting God second on third on the list, when there ought not even be a list. In those moments when we find ourselves allowing "stuff" or money to steal our hearts, perhaps, we should ask," Who's in charge here?"


1 comment:

  1. I agree. Sometimes it isn't even the thing itself, but that we become completely consumed with the idea of capturing or obtaining the thing. The really deceptive matter of concern about it is that lots of times we can explain it away saying that it is for something good or even fooling ourselves to the point that we believe it is for furthering the kingdom of God! All the while it's merely a distraction from His purpose!