I’m intrigued by what people collect. For me, it is the songs on my iPod. Beyond that, I don’t have many things that I care about collecting.
I have a cousin who collected stuffed animals. One of my sister’s has collectible plates and snow globes. Someone else has thousands of DVDs and somebody else collects guitars.
Whether it is tools, luxury cars, hockey cards, Coca-cola memorabilia or shoes, everyone has their reasons for collecting. There is probably nothing intrinsically wrong with having a collection. The question is whether we have the stuff or the stuff has us.
Have you noticed that choking feeling that comes over you when you think you need something you cannot afford? What dream has not been fulfilled because you are tied down by taking care of your stuff? You once dreamed about having your own place and now you have it. So why do you dream about getting into a bigger house? That car that you wanted so bad five years ago is now falling apart and costing you more than you expected. Are you feeling things tightening?
In the story about the seed and the soil, Jesus identified the ground where the weeds choked the life out of the growing plant. The poor soul who is filled with the cares of the world and deceived by riches is choking to death!
Stop right now and take a deep breath. Are you going to let these anxieties destroy your life?
There are harmless hobby collections, but then there are possessions that hold power over us—they possess us! Like Gollum with his precious ring, things can become obsessively demanding in our lives.
Things can make us feel that we have status in the eyes of others. Things can make us feel safer. Things can assure as that we have succeeded at living.
At least, that is what we sometimes believe about our things. Perhaps, we have been charmed by the power of things and bought into a lifestyle of lies.
Listen to Jesus about these things.
Jesus calls us to change the things we collect and where we store them. Instead of collecting earthly things that wear out and break, collect heavenly things. Instead of storing our stuff in storage units and garages, store things in Heaven.
I like Lynn Stout’s slogan. She collects people.
Was Jesus anti-materialistic? No, but He was realistic. The greatest treasures on earth in Jesus’ time have all disintegrated. A tiny remnant of treasure is in fragile estate stored in museums and galleries. But apart from the anthropological and aesthetic values, it is still stuff that no-one can really use.
Jesus knew that in the shortness of our lives, that the stuff would all wear out and be a poor legacy to leave behind for successive generations. What matters most to Jesus is eternal treasure. What affect on human lives will you leave when you go? Will your life be marked by the yard sale after you die or the eternal values you lived by? What is the stuff that will outlast your human remains?
We Christians believe in resurrection. We are not merely passing time here until we can get to Heaven. We believe that we will rise again and that Heaven will come to earth. We believe that eternal things will last forever. What do have that will last forever? You may as well think about it now and live accordingly. Store the things that are beyond a worldly price.
This has everything to do with how we spend our time and money. Today, there are treasures in your heart. Everything revolves around those things.
It breaks my heart when I see empty church buildings being used by a handful once or twice a week when the opportunities abound to share the space with the community.
I often wrestle with questions about how I can live on less and give more away. It’s not a comfortable question. There are choke marks on my neck. And if you look into my eyes, will there be evidence of life?