Here in Tennessee, a marvelous thing called Tax Free Weekend is about to take place, but whether you’ve got one of those in your state or not, you’re probably looking at spending a good bit of money in preparation for school starting back. New clothes. New notebooks and folders and backpacks that will express your personality for the year. New electronics, either to look cool or keep up with the way schools are using them more and more (because I would have been TOTALLY dedicated to the math app on my smart phone, if I’d had one in high school. I NEVER would have checked Facebook!) Whatever you’re spending money on, or not spending it on if your parents are a bit more frugal (like mine were, ‘WHAT, I have to use LAST YEAR’s backpack!?!) do you subscribe to an American view of freedom- one that says stuff is everything? or one that says Christ is?
A question I’ve been asking myself recently is, “Is America really free”? And if so, then “How do I define that freedom?”
So much of American culture is consumed by the idea of materialism that sometimes it is easy to alter our worldview with a life of Christ by those standards. This may sound ridiculous, after all, Jesus was constantly preaching about rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s and throughout the Gospels He is constantly giving and taking care of the poor. However, I believe that many of us base our relationship and our closeness with God on whether or not things in our life are going in a way that WE believe they should. Whether that be with material goods, being financially stable, and even how we are feeling.
This idea, however, brings dangers along.
See, what we are essentially saying is that if our life is not going well, or the way America defines “well,” then something about our relationship with Jesus is wrong, or at least could be better.
We start defining our relationship with Christ with that of the world.
God doesn’t care how many positions we hold in church, how many material goods we have, or how far up in our education we may get. In fact, in Matthew Jesus says that, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (19:24), and that is because these things, these materials that America says we need in order to survive, can take away our reliance on Christ.
While much of American culture says that it is best to be rich, be happy, be successful, have tons of materials, and a long healthy life, Christ says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34-36).
So don’t base your relationship on Christ on the way your life looks, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned: it’s not going to be easy, and there are going to be struggles. And when those times of hopelessness’ come, that’s when we see Christ the most, and that’s when we can look up and praise Him for all He’s done and all He promises to do.
Editor’s note: If there’s one thing we’re guilty of at Unfading, it’s struggling with wanting things to go our way, not God’s way. In what kind of situations have you struggled with that? What did you do about it? How has Christ been real to you in the midst of hopelessness and trouble. If you, like us, are looking for the Biblical idea of freedom, instead of one that’s defined by how much stuff you own, I recommend starting in John 8:31-32: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”