it's a material world, and i am a material girl…

let me just start by saying that many of you, if you are reading, will not like this blog…but i believe that it needs to be written and read by every Christian alive today…this is something that has currently been on my heart and on the heart of my husband as well, and has brought us to our knees together (though not physically)

“One sunny Labor Day, I had the opportunity to go boating with a group of six high schoolers in the clear blue waters off the coast of Miami. We enjoyed the beautiful weather while swimming and water-skiing off the back end of a pretty impressive boat that belonged to Dave’s father. When it was Dave’s turn to ski, I went to the back of the boat to slide him the skis while he dove into the water. When Dave resurfaced, he leaned back and let out a comfortable sigh.

‘Ahhhh,’ he said. ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing today.”

~ Walt Mueller in Youth Culture 101

when i read the above following passage in one of my books, i felt a pang in my heart and said out loud, “oh Lord, what have we (I) done”

do you remember the old song by Madonna, the one about living in a material world? though i’m not a Madonna fan, the lyrics are ones that stick with you no matter if you’ve heard it once or heard it a thousand times

but there is a unbelievable amount of truth in what she is singing about…that we live in a material world, and we are material girls (or boys, or people)

the world we live in is based on material things…we are absolutely infiltrated with them on a daily basis…it is impossible to turn on the television, watch a movie, go to the store, or drive down the road without seeing a billboard/ad/person advertising the newest, coolest cell phone, laptop, jewelry, car, clothing, expensive restaurant, you name it

Burger King tells us, “Have it your way.”
McDonald’s asks, “Have you had your break today?”
L’oreal boasts, “Because you’re worth it!”
Visa states, “Its everywhere you want to be.”
Apple Computer says, “Everything’s easier on a Mac.”

we have been targeted, manipulated, controlled, and bought by the marketplace in our society…there are very few of us who have escaped the addiction to stuff, and even those who have overcome it are still tempted no matter where they are

Kenneth Kantzer wrote this in a book: “The most serious problem facing the church today is materialism – materialism not as a philosophical theory, but as a way of life.”

Christians, followers of Christ, have become selfish, and we have believed the lie that “he who dies with the most toys [or clothes, or a big house, or a nice car] wins”…when did we forget that all of those things aren’t going with us when we die??? and when we don’t get what we want, we turn into people who don’t look very much like Christ…our attitude is, “don’t let anyone walk into my church wearing jeans with holes in them and a dirty shirt with greasy hair...i’m not giving handouts”

we think, and say, that someone is “blessed” if they have financial prosperity…but the word blessed, in the Bible, has nothing to do with money…in the Greek, this is the definition of blessed: “happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous--with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions”

those of us who are feel we are “struggling to make it” in the American economy still have a ridiculous amount of money, material things, and food…we don’t realize that the median annual income for the entire population on the planet is $7,000…if you have a car, any car, you are considered RICH by the rest of the world…if you have something to eat on your table every night, even if that something is a can of soup and crackers, you are considered RICH by the rest of the world

we have the wrong perspective on money and just how much we need to live and survive…with what ONE teenager alone (who gets the money from parents) spends on clothing, techno toys, food, and fun activities in a month, FIVE hungry families could be fed for 6 months!!!

in our brokenness and desperation to fill the emptiness inside, we believe the lies that we are not good enough, that we need money to feel secure or have peace, that we have no life if we can’t go buy the latest technological device or fashions in the name-brand stores…we have been brainwashed

the worst thing is that the marketplace, the consumerist society we live in, KNOWS that we WILL buy what they are selling, no matter the price, because we think we can’t live without it…our mindset is that having money and things will cure any feelings of low self-esteem, bring happiness, make us feel good, and get us the attention/popularity we desire

Christians in American are more concerned with having financial peace and security than whether the rest of the world goes hungry…and our definition of success is having money in our savings account and living in a nice, predominantly white, neighborhood with a two-car garage and a big backyard for b-b-q-ing on the 4th of July

here are some serious questions we, in the Church, need to ask ourselves:

- What do you want to pass on to your kids? Money or material things or godly character traits and a heart for serving Him?
- How much does your lifestyle reflect and conform to the idea that money buys happiness?
- If you’re a goal-oriented person, what are your goals for the next 5, 10, or 15 years from now? Are they primarily financial or material in nature?
- If someone you know was to write out a definition of success based on your leisurely lifestyle, what would they write?
- Are you always looking to get the competitive edge or keep up with the Joneses?
- Are you jealous when someone you know acquires something (nice car, better job, pretty clothes, lavish vacation) you don’t have but want?
- Are you the one who has something you don’t need but want (nice car, highest-paying job, pretty clothes, lavish vacation)?
- Do you refer to your wants as needs?
- When will you know that you’re “financially secure?”
- Someone once said, “You tell me what you spend your time daydreaming about, and I’ll tell you who your god is.” What do you daydream about?
- Do you possess your possessions, or do they possess you?
- Does your faith and security rest in God or in your money/things?

*Disclaimer: The following video may convict you and bring you to your knees in repentance. If you have a hard time viewing it, then perhaps you don’t need to answer the questions above.

we need to stop putting our trust in money, material things, financial peace, etc… and put our trust in God! we need to quit being selfish and thinking that if we have money we are something special! we could lose everything we have in a matter of minutes…and if we did, then what would we have??? IS GOD ENOUGH????

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” ~ Mark 8:36


Proud USMC Wife said...

Thank you for sharing this. I loved it and you're right it needed to be said. In the past few weeks I have been evaluating our financial status and realized how lucky we are to have things like food on our table. Our society has tricked us into thinking this is what happiness is...to have material items. How sad. As a mother I plan on changing my own behavior so my child doesn't hold material items higher than God.

Ginger said...

Amen. You are so correct....

Claire said...

I tend to agree, but I don't think the problem is the material things, per se. It's a matter of idolatry.

It's not so much a matter of "how much do we need" inasmuch as it's an issue of "do you remember who really owns all you have?" God is the real deed holder to the earth and all within it. We are merely stewards.

I am a huge LOTR fan, and I have always felt that Denethor is a good model of poor stewardship. He was to be the steward of Gondor until the King returned, but instead he became drunk with himself. Had he kept his eyes looking for the King he would have remembered his rightful place. He had an entire Kingdom to care for, yet he was obsessed with more power. The ring was an idol - a very powerful idol, and it brought out the worst in all around it.

Another reason I think it boils down to idolatry is found in Exodus (really Ex-Deut). When the Israelites were in exile and literally lived on the daily bread miraculously provided to them (talk about a stark reliance on the hand of God!) they still struggled with greed and idolatry. They would take more manna than they needed (of course it didn't keep because God told them NOT to do it!) Even when we are at our poorest, materially speaking, we still struggle with the temptation to horde God's provisions.

This is something that I have struggled with as a Christian and will struggle with for the rest of my life. As I am convicted and able to repent, I do better. It's only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we can overcome this sin.

I am trying to teach my daughter now about ownership and stewardship. I never pondered any of this until I was an adult. I want her to accept every gift given to her with open hands, and an open heart -- open to a willingness to lay it all down if the Lord so chooses. There is a comfort in resting in the knowledge that we don't have to strive so hard. We should do the work God gives us. Enjoy the blessings of that work, but always remember that although we earned our possessions according to the world's standards, but for the grace of our wonderful Lord, we would not even have life.

Kim said...

Such truth in our world today. We have recently begun evaluating our needs versus our wants and realizing very quickly we are depending on materialistic things way too much. We are in a season of uncertainty in our finances, but one thing remains constant in our lives -- our loving Savior -- who will answer all our needs.