“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:5, Message)
One of the token complaints of church is that the “pastor is always preaching about money.” Especially if you’re looking for a church in October, by the way. But had these complainers ever sat in audience with Jesus, they’d find themselves with similar sentiments. Money was one of the favorite topics of teaching and conversation. However, unlike common sermons today, Jesus centered his words as much around the 90% of income as it did the 10% that was supposed to become a tithe to the church. Jesus laid out a fundamental warning: Materialism is about ownership – when money, and stuff, own you.
Take the rich man, for example, that followed all the laws and rules for religion. When he asked Jesus what to do, Jesus told him to sell al his possessions and give them to the poor. The rich man couldn’t do it and walked away saddened. This passage has more layers than an onion, and included in them is the sadness the rich man must felt when he realized his material goods had a stronger grip in him than the Spirit of God.
So, I’ve decided my Lenten practice this year will be to stop spending. The Big Freeze. Of course, there are caveats that will keep me out of bankruptcy: paying bills, doctors and groceries. (Personal care items count as groceries. Going sans deodorant isn’t one of the ways I want to be like Jesus). My biggest challenge will be to not sneak into the cart a non-grocery item that I “need” while at Meijer. I’m definitely going to need an accountability structure for that.
I’m hoping the next 40 days will help me realize exactly how much I participate in this machine of consumerism. How my social life centers around paying someone to prepare (ok, be honest – heat up) my food. And how much I depend on a store to supply me with an object to give someone as a token of my gratitude or love. I hope God reveals to me little ingenuity I have, how I don’t look to my own creativity before I head to Amazon.
So here we go. Day one, leaving the house without the need of cash or credit.