I am missing out on so much.
Every day, I am bombarded with thousands of images of what I don’t have. If only I looked like this famous person or wore those shoes or had that latest tech gizmo, I would be worthwhile. In our culture of consumerism, I am what I own.
I would love to say that I rise above this mindset, but a recent trip to a large suburban mall reminded me that too often, I buy in to it.
My best friend and I perused store after store and watched other shoppers pick up items without even a glance at the price tag. We left the mall frustrated. Angry, even. I was infuriated … not because people were spending hundreds of dollars on shoes and clothes they’d forget about after summer’s end, but because I couldn’t afford those things.
This mindset is not only hitting our wallets, but taking us away from the heart of Jesus himself.
After a weekend feeling sorry for myself among the extremely wealthy, I read a humbling article by Jill Carattini. Carattini, managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, challenges us:
“In a culture dominated by consumption, the commodification of everything around us is becoming more and more of an unconscious worldview.”
My initial reaction was the familiar guilt for being consumed with the trivial. Consumed with the latest trends and styles. But then I thought, what am I missing out on when I chose to fill my life with the trivial?
When I surrender to a culture of consumerism, I lose sight of the deep cries of God.
Throughout the Bible, Christ calls us to look after the poor and widows. He offers us the opportunity to enter into His suffering and His passion for those deemed unlovable.
When I spend my money and time on pursuing things of no eternal value, I miss the heart of Jesus.
Most of the children we sponsor have only one or two outfits. One or two pairs of shoes versus my 10 or 20. Yet Jesus promises us that He is close to the material poor and that He will always provide. And one way He provides is through sponsors and donors like you.
At Compassion, we watch so many families survive on so little. Simplicity. I believe this simplicity is at the very core of the heart of Christ. Carattini asks,
“How then shall we live in a world of affluence? How are we to fight the all-pervading atmosphere of consumerism and the attitude of commodification around us? How do we learn again to see our neighbors when they have become invisible behind our mountains of stuff? There is good reason for unrelenting words against the greed that turns communities into commodities and souls into consumers.”
Our souls were created for so much more. Our souls were created to love. To laugh deeply. To get down in the muck with others and come alongside in their suffering. I do not want to miss out on the real stuff of life through the self-medication of buying more. What devastation to the kingdom of God!
Christ offers us so much more. What stops me from reaching out and taking it? I can’t help but wonder what reaching out would truly cost me.
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Great post. Thank you for the reminder.
Yes, Barbara, I definitely recommend reading her article. It truly inspired & challenged me… also made me uncomfortable with the way I live my life! And I think we all know that out of discomfort often comes change!
I like what you had to say about the things we see as blessings often becoming obstacles. I’ve noticed that so much in my own life! Sometimes all of our “creature comforts” take us away from the heart of Jesus.
I’m so thankful that our Creator knows our hearts, our weaknesses, and offers grace in the midst of it all. 🙂
@Barbara M. – You can read it here.
Wonderful post! Can you tell us how to find her article in full? I would love to read it. Thank you.
The truth of the matter is that most of the things we claim as being blessings from God are the very same things that become obstacles in our faith walk and we spend a great deal of time explaining to ourselves that this is not the case. As far as I can see there is only one solution and we all know what it is.
These definitely are words of wisdom. I have been really thinking about this issue too. I wrote on my blog recently about seeing a commercial where the narrator was saying something like, “Your house can look like a magazine too.” And it showed so many different views of lavish living. The thought came to my mind, “Is this all we’re concerned with?” I was so turned off. I mean, I believe the Lord wants us to have nice things. But, I don’t think He wants us to be consumed by them so that we don’t see those around us who are in need. This post was awesome.
Hit the nail on the head! Materialism is like an infectious disease in the western world. Enough is not enough, and the more we see the more we want. I need to be reminded I have so much when the majority of the world has so little. Thanks for your post.
Ah I read your heart here and hear your struggle loud and clear. So much so I wrote a post on envy on Tuesday. Thanks for your words of wisdom.
I just returned from a weekend mission trip in Seattle run by Youth for Christ. We took 9 Jr. Highers to serve in various shelters and missions around the city. What an amazing thing it is just to see the poverty and pain here at home, never mind around the world in countries much less well off than the USA. I’m so thankful that our kids came away with a new mindset about what they really need verses what they “think” they need! How pervasive the sinful obssession with things is in our culture! I praise God everyday for the genuine joy my Compassion girls share in their letters that reminds me of what Jesus Christ considers important needs!!
@Amy Wallace – I have noticed the same thing. I have never been one to spend a lot of money but after being a sponsor and especially since I have had the chance to take missions trips to some of the poorer parts of the world, possessions do not seem to be that important. I do occasionaly find myself spending more money than I need too, but my perspective has changed.
I noticed the same thing after I first began sponsoring, Amy. As for the marketing in our culture, I think it’s a toss-up whether we’re supposed to believe all the “stuff” will make us worthwhile, or it will make us happy. Either way, it’s all a lie. I resist getting gadgets I don’t need and usually go without, but don’t get the idea I live in a shack!
Frankly, I’m not big on self-sacrifice; I don’t do it well, as a rule. But what has changed is what I consider a sacrifice: e.g., hanging onto my “old” iPod, rather than upgrading, is not a sacrifice.
J. Vernon McGee (Thru the Bible Radio) used to say that the US was cursed with prosperity. We have so much that we too frequently leave reliance on God out of the picture. When it is relatively easy to earn a decent living here, it’s too easy to think that we can do it all on our own, and that we just “have to have” the latest fashion or gadget.
Returning from a trip to Honduras last week, I’m reminded of how little material goods the poor have there, but how much they trust God for their needs. The “affluent” in their shopping centers go blindly about their business, faces locked in a frozen expression as they talk on their cell phones or carry they bags of treasures. If only we wanted God as much as “keeping up with the Jones’s.”
I’ve noticed that since I became a sponsor, material things don’t seem to hold appeal to me anymore. Naturally, I still get those moments where I spend too much money on stuff I certainly don’t need, but I think I have FINALLY come to realize that having the best clothes or the most books isn’t going to make me happy. I read the letters from my kids, and I feel happy; I look at the expensive clothes I bought, and I just feel disgusted with myself for spending as much money as I did.
It is hard when we feel like we are missing out. I felt like I was missing out on visiting my sponsor kids, so I prayed and tried to save up to go and thank God I was able to go and am going to the Philippines this June 6-18! Missing out is not always a bad thing, but it can be if what I am missing out on is not really worth missing!
Excellent point and TRUTH! 2 of my favorite ways to reach out are family gifts and Sponsor Tours!!!!!!! It is not easy to forego little things that would be nice to have but sometimes necessary to be able to do things we know are more AMAZING and obedient to God.
I agree! Our culture tries to blind us to everyone but ourselves. Jesus always focused on others. We have to fight our way out of this worldview.
This is soooooooo good! This is definitely something I struggle with, and your post was so well written – thank you!
Let us praise God for His faithful ability to multi-task; changing the giver as well as the receiver…the master weaver who incorperates us all into the same tapestry.