Every time my family gets ready for vacation I get nervous. My nerves are caused by the thought of figuring out how I am possibly going to fit all of our stuff into the car. When I say “our stuff” I really am referring to my wife’s stuff. By her own admission, she is incapable of traveling light. She has to bring every object that there is at least a .0001% chance she may need. The result is that one needs an engineering degree to figure out how to cram everything into the car. I think this is an apt illustration for our lives. We carry way more baggage around in our lives then we should. Over the next five weeks we are going to reflect on five things that we need to deal with in our life in order to travel lighter: stuff, distractions, bitterness, control, and failure. Today we’ll kick things off with stuff.
It seems that every year the number of things that are “necessary” in our lives grows. It’s hard to imagine my life without a smartphone, laptop computer, and an Ipad. Its also getting hard to imagine how all three could not be seamlessly connected to one another (plus my TV and car radio) via the cloud. Every year more products are rolled out that the world screams that we HAVE to have. Put another way, a pretty prominent message the world sends us is that the purpose of life is to collect the most stuff possible. The Bible, however, paints a very different story.
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16-22
The real problem with the young man in this story was his inability to trust that Jesus was sufficient for his life. Following Jesus was simply not enough for him. He chose to instead buy the world’s lie that our happiness and purpose is found in stuff. The problem with the world’s view is twofold. First, we can never accumulate enough stuff to really be happy. Second, no matter how much stuff we accumulate, we can’t have it forever. The only way to have happiness that lasts forever is to realize that Jesus is sufficient. To realize that Jesus’ love and grace is what we really need to be happy now and forever. Jesus is sufficient for our lives. We need to stop desiring so much other stuff, and instead realize that we already have what we really need, and that is the love and grace of Jesus.