Contentedness and Condensing

church earthIt’s environmental care week on the blog.  In case you missed Monday’s intro post (spurred on by earth day), we are talking about a Christian response to caring for the environment.  I’d love for this week to be a conversation, so please link up, comment, and share.  I’ want to hear your thoughts and implementation of caring for the environment.

Our culture loves newer, thinner, faster, bigger, better stuff.  We are constantly bombarded with messages that we should upgrade.  We look at what our neighbors, coworkers, family members, pew-mates, and friends have and we want.  We want their lives, their fashion, their budget, their technology.  Sometimes we stop at envy, other times, we copy and consume, and still other times, we go bigger than our neighbor and we consume more.

But the truth is, when we consume, we are only satisfied and happy for a short season, and then when the new iphone comes out, or the summer line of handbags, or the newest flatscreen, we become dissatisfied and discontent and we start buying into the idea that we need to upgrade again.

Matthew Sleeth puts it this way; “The content mind is one of the greatest obstacles to a rich spiritual life”

We know Christ’s teaching in Matthew 6, where Jesus says, “19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I think most of us want our hearts to be in the right place. I know I want my heart to be in the right place.  We want to store up treasures in heaven, but that’s so ethereal.  We aren’t bombarded with heaven-treasure-storing messages daily, unless we are intentional about it, but we are bombarded with earth-treasure-storing daily without having to seek it out.

We are met with upgrade messages constantly at work, on the television, on the highway, and even at church.  Many of our own churches have upgraded to the fanciest of screens, state of the art lighting, and best of the best graphic designs.  It’s downright counter- cultural  even among Christians to live simple, content lives.

How do we become truly content with what we have? How do we live simplify our lives?

“Simplifying means having less, wanting less, being satisfied with what you have or less than what you have.  It does not mean boredom.  People with too many things are the most easily bored.” (Sleeth)  Isn’t that true?  The more we get the more quickly we tire of things and move on to the next.

Aside from our unhappiness, jealousy, tight budgets, and credit card debt over our consumption addiction, there are environmental implications, too.  Our culture’s constant need for new stuff has overwhemled our landfills with technology (because no one wants to pay to recycle technology properly when we could trash it for free) and other items that were still functional.  Our culture’s constant need for new stuff requires more oil, more chemicals, more slave labor… and the list goes on.

And in addition to environmental implications for our consumption addiction, there are societal implications.  Our need for new has stripped our budgets from wiggle room to be generous.  Rather than contribute to ending world hunger, to educating women in countries where that is not common, to providing clean water for a town, we have chosen to store up treasures on earth.

“On no subject was Jesus more clear than on materialism  A life focused on possessions is a poor and misguided life.”

For about a year after reading Serve God Save the Planet, Adam and I took the author’s suggestion and prayed before every purchase asking God, “Will this bring me closer to God.”  More times that not, the answer was no.  We scaled back our purchasing and the less we shopped the less we wanted.  But slowly, over time, we slipped back into old habits.  We made a budget and because we had budged for things, we bought things.  Sure, we had prayed over our budget – perhaps that’s how we justified our spending.  But easily enough, we started slipping back into purchasing more.  Consumption is a habit that can turn into an addiction if unchecked.

When we bought our home in December, we started having some talks again about fighting consumerism and embracing generosity.  We had a treasure check.

Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.

Where my treasure is, there will my heart be also.

This topic is a difficult one, I’d love to hear from you on this subject.  

How have you found contentment in what you have?  How have you embraced simplicity?  Do you struggle with consumerism?

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