I accumulate things and give God an honorable mention (a shout out to Jesus as it were) as I sit at the table overflowing with food and beverage, much of which I will store in my refrigerator just long enough to let it mold, or go stale. I don’t even have a dog to give it to nowadays. That in summary is the lethality of my luxury.
Pastor Al Jackson of Lakeview Baptist Church, Auburn Alabama sums up the American culture in one word. MORE. Whatever we have, we just want MORE! In this sermon series, my brother is speaking on living as counter cultural Christians. I am not sure I am ready for it. I must admit, I am part of that culture and it seems impossible to escape from some of the clear examples he sets forth. I live in a house with my wife. Just the two of us live in a house big enough to accommodate several families anywhere else in the world, including families here in our home nation. As I count the pairs of shoes I must stuff into the shoe container, the number of Tee shirts into my bottom drawer, I think to myself, I need bigger containers and dresser drawers. Well, maybe I really don’t. Pastor Jackson goes on to quote C.S. Lewis ”I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us,… they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.”
What a radical way to think. You mean I should deny myself so that others can have? Where is my comfort level in that? There is lethality in our luxury as Americans. We have come to accept that having the access to excess is success. We believe that we are entitled to have more because we are in a nation and world that takes greater pride in having than giving. We exalt the people who exhibit their wealth by what they have rather than what they give away. When someone does give something away, it is rarely done privately or without great fanfare, and even less rarely without a tax receipt. I keep very close track of my charitable giving.
There is lethality in this luxury. What dies is our ability to sacrifice. What dies is our desire to do without excess so that others can have just plain access. I will overeat and not think twice about throwing away the scraps I leave behind. It does not matter that I overindulge in eating, or drinking. What really matters is that I am able to make a lot of money to spend on things I don’t really need to impress people who don’t really care, or maybe even jealous. That may be what I want after all.
The lethality of luxury is that my heart grows cold to the heart of what God is telling me. Pastor Jackson quotes Proverbs 30:8-9 ….,give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. The lethality is that I would deny God and become so enamored with my wealth that I forget the source of my wealth. When I forget the source of my wealth, I start to die.
The lethality of not giving thanks for the carbonated beverage is that I begin to take the availability of water for granted. The lethality of not giving thanks for a warm place to sleep is that I neglect to give thanks for being allowed to awaken the next morning. I take God for granted and that is lethal. The prophet wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:8 All things [are] full of labor: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
We find ourselves wanting more, expecting more, telling ourselves we are entitled to more because after all, it is there and we either earned it, or deserve it. Our eyes are never satisfied, our hunger increases and as a result our bodies adapt to encourage our appetites. We want constant entertainment, constant food, constant communication and it must all be in the color and quantity we want (thank you Jesus).
We no longer pray; ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, rather Give us this day our monthly bread. Assure us this month everything we could possibly desire will happen as we want it when we want it. This is lethal luxury. It is evident in our increasing Body Mass Index (Indices) as Americans grow bigger and bigger.
God forgive me for wanting more of it, than wanting more of you. God forgive me for this lethal luxury.