Ok this maybe anti-American but Jesus was definitely anti-stuff. When Jesus sent out his disciples to spread the Word he told them to take nothing with them. They weren’t even allow to take and extra pair of sandals for their long walk and they did a lot of walking in those days! And then remember the rich man who approached Jesus to learn how to get to heaven. That ended up with Jesus telling him to sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor and then follow Jesus and his ragtag team. Of course the rich man, as most of us today, could not even conceive of doing that. He just went away rejected.
We, especially in the United States, are totally addicted to our “stuff”. Of course being a capitalist country our whole economy depends on all of us buying more and more “stuff” each year. It’s not good enough to just buy the same amount as we bought last year; we have to always buy more ;). If we fill our house with “stuff” then there is always the garage. If even the garage is full then how about off-site storage which is one of the few remaining growth industries. Or now we can even have our storage unit brought to us for filling up (PODS). If we run out of money to buy our “stuff” there is always another credit card offer in the mail. Let’s face it buying “stuff” is a vicious cycle that is difficult to break
Getting back to the rich man as mentioned above, many Christians now rationalize that to be just a story and not what Jesus really intendeds for us to do. From my studies of early Christianity that was definitely not the case with them. For at least the first few hundred years many, if not most, affluent people really did sell everything when they started following Jesus. I’m not sure exactly when this practice fell out of the favor but I expect it was around the time that Constantine made Christianity a State religion. I think we need to give up some “stuff” and then revisit the practice of giving to the less fortunate than us? But of course we could never go all the way as Jesus mentioned. The apostle John made the following statement in 1John. ” This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence “. Let’s put these word in today’s lingo or at least what I perceive it to be. John says you have to back what you say with actions or the words are meaningless. To me John is flatly saying that if you have faith in Jesus then you WILL do these things. That gets us into a much deeper subject of “works vs. faith” which I will tackle in a future postings. For now, let’s buy less “stuff” and help our less fortunate brothers a little more.