8/4/2016 5:09:04 PM
The trouble with stuff
Stuff isn't so bad. The vacations, the electronics, the cars, the careers, the accomplishments, the hard work, the inheritance we’re trying to build--if those things were evil, we’d have to go live on the moon or the bottom of the ocean. It’s not the things.
So what's all the trouble?
It’s the value we place on them. We look at this thing and we derive a sense of self-worth from it. We take our career and from that career we want: security, joy, peace and a feeling like our lives are worth something in this world.
Translation? My sense of self-worth and validation will come from what I’ve done. And all of the sudden, without even realizing it, we’ve elevated this thing up into our life and we have asked—we have demanded--it to satisfy the longings of our soul. We have spiritualized our stuff. We have asked an inanimate object, a career, an accomplishment, to do for us what only the living God can do. And it becomes our religion: the reason we live and what forms the center of our lives. And like a house filled with junk, our souls get so cluttered that we can no longer see the light of God, just barely peeking out from around the window.
There is nothing good except what comes from God. I look into my life and I see the accumulation of things, of accomplishments, and none of that is good for me outside of God. Too much of it distracts. Too much of it tempts. And I suspect you would feel the same way.
And then we come and we sit before the altar of God. Our God, who has every right to destroy us. And instead, from his altar come happy words of forgiveness. There is no love lost. We hear gracious words from God through Scripture. He reveals his mind to us so that we would know how much he loves and cares for us. We hear Sunday after Sunday, church year after church, all that God did to rescue us from sin and death and slavery to guilt and shame. God takes precious souls and washes them in the waters of baptism to remove the stain of sin and mark that soul as a child of God. Then God does something even more incredible. As if inviting us into his presence weren’t enough; as if sharing his deepest most intimates thoughts of love with us weren’t enough; as if washing our sins away weren’t enough; he invites us to come before him once again so that he can place into our bodies the very body and blood of his son. And as we hold in our hands the bread and the body and taste on our lips the wine and the blood, we are filled with an indescribable hope and joy as we know that we are right with God. And we leave this house of worship renewed, restored and at peace. God has given us from the wealth of his grace and into the poverty of our sin-sick souls he has poured the richness of his everlasting, unchanging love and forgiveness. And finally! Our souls are satisfied.
Satisfied. Not by our stuff. Not by our accomplishments. Not by our work. But by our God who alone can accomplish this in our lives. This is the good that can only come from him. A soul, your soul, is satisfied by God who gives you his wisdom, his knowledge and his happiness.
So what to do with all this stuff? Dump it in the ocean?
Use it. Earn it. Enjoy it. But you can never be satisfied by it.