I’ve long held fast to the theory that the more toys you have the more money, time, energy you spend on said toys. So you have a sewing machine or a motorbike or a camera or barbecue and suddenly you’ve got a hundred things that could (and do!) go wrong with all of the above. That means that saturday afternoon will be spent taking your sewing machine to the repair shop where you’ll drop a bunch of cash to make it all right again. Up that to something like a swimming pool or a boat and you’ll spend a whole lot more. Or you’ll spend time fiddling with your camera trying to get it right again, meanwhile becoming snappy with the children, burning dinner and basically grumbling about why things can’t just work. Oh. Just me?
I’ve known this to be true for a long time. The more I have, the more potential for disaster. Yet here we are, living in the western world, surrounding ourselves with things which we hope will make us happy. We’ve got the largest (and most posh) houses, we have the most amount of vehicles, we busy ourselves to death with movies and media and we have every sort of toy imaginable! Problem is, we’re one of the most unhappy societies around.
Awhile back we watched Tom Shadyac’s ( of Bruce Almighty fame) documentary Happy. In it, he went on a mission to discover why people in other parts of the world, people with so much less, are decidedly happier than we are. Turns out he learned a few things. Most of all, it isn’t stuff that makes us happy at all! I know this because there were people with nothing (like, really really nothing) and they had big grins and were sitting around laughing and they were happy in the truest sense of the word. No 3-D tv’s, no shopping weekends, no Hunter boots or iPhones and they were loving life.
I’m not like them. Our oven broke and I’ve been without it for nearly a week. At first it was easy. I made crock pot dinners and chilli and soups. But suddenly I started craving roast potatoes and a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies and I got a little bit grumpy.
In the midst of the oven fiasco, my beloved MacBook died. Like, done. When I took it in to the shop and they announced its inability to be fixed my heart sunk. My eyes got a little misty. We’ve been through a lot that computer and me.
I announced to my husband over the phone today that I have no oven and no computer and my life is practically over! I can’t do anything! (okay it was a bit of a dramatic moment, I’ll admit) Of course being the voice of
reality love and complete non-drama that he is, he laughed at me and proclaimed I have it so hard with all my first world problems. True that.
So I thought about it a bit as I sulked around. What do we do here when our things break? Well, we buy new ones. We dip into savings or swipe the old credit card or put in some overtime to make up the cost. We ditch the old and get the new and carry on as though it never happened.
You know why? Because we’re stinkin’ filthy rich! That’s why! (Yes, even you who think you aren’t because you make minimum wage or are a student or are up to your eyeballs in debt!) Thing is, if you have a roof over your head and shoes on your feet, you qualify as rich in this world.
Here’s the problem, Matthew 19:24 says, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Are you getting the imagery here? A camel. A needle. Aaaand through. Yeah, not going to happen, right? Right. So let’s follow that imagery. Rich person. Kingdom of God. And easier for that camel to get through that needle. Anyone else a little unnerved by that?
So what do we do? I assure you I have no answer.
It’s easy for my heart to look at people who have yachts and pools and big big toys and think, yeah, it might be hard for them. They really should be careful. But because I don’t think of myself as rich its just as easy to turn a blind eye and get the oven parts and buy a new computer because these are essentials of life. Or are they? Not for most of the world they’re not.
My heart is waging a battle right now. Like, right now! It’s hardly suffering to have to share one computer in a family of 5 but it kind of feels like it. And it’s hardly suffering to not have an oven when there’s a stove top, a crock pot, a wood burning stove, a coffee maker, a griddler, a blender, a toaster and a nutrient zapping, DNA shifter. (what? you don’t call your microwave that?)
I can justify that I live here so these things are important to life here. But let’s be honest, I can justify a whole lotta things. Ask my husband. I assure you he’ll vouch for me.
So how do we reconcile this? Our living here in the very rich western world with the call to live differently (Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect) and a blatant warning that riches make it extremely difficult to follow God. (Matthew 19:24, Mark 10: 25)
I have no idea….