My last post wasn’t as profound or poetic as I’d hoped. Such is life.
Essentially I’m frustrated because I don’t share the same values as my family—namely my mother, who’s the only one who insists on bringing it up all the time. Surprise, surprise.
I understand how it works, I really do. You can’t escape money in a modern economy. Money can buy so many things, so we’re told. And you need money to get around. You can’t walk everywhere, you can’t eat only the food you grow in your own backyard, you can’t build your own house with materials you produced yourself, and so on. Money lubricates the economy, making it easier to get what you need and encouraging specialization of labor. When I don’t have to raise my own pigs, I can spend more time studying theology, or teaching high school, or manufacturing computers, or whatever it is that you do.
The problem comes, I think, when we try to use money to buy things that aren’t up for sale.
Money can buy you a house, but it can’t buy you safety and security.
It can buy you health insurance, but it can’t buy you health.
It can buy you life insurance, but it ensure a life of value.
It can buy you a comfortable bed, but it can’t buy you a sense of fulfilment when your head hits the pillow.
It can buy you nice clothes, but not a sense of identity.
It can buy you a cell phone, but not stable relationships.
See what I mean? How many people do you know who have a car, a cell phone, health and life insurance, a house, a mortgage, and all of these material things, yet who remain unfulfilled, unsatisfied, who lack a sense of identity, who have terrible relationships?
So, why do we buy these things at all? Food, shelter, clothes, health—that’s what a life needs. But when those things become what life is about, something’s wrong. But that’s how we live in America, no matter what class you belong to. And the things we need? Jesus tells Christians not to worry about our lives, what we will wear, what we will eat—because if God is our shepherd, we will not be in want.
So. Here’s my question. Doesn’t the pursuit of wealth, of safety, security, and prosperity, and the constant fretting over these things, imply our lack of trust in God’s provision? And doesn’t the accumulation of wealth constitute a rejection of God’s provision? Life insurance, health insurance, five bedrooms, the suburbs, a mortgage, a nice car—all of these things seem to protect us from the perils of the world, yes. But don’t they also insulate us from the experience of grace?
Faith should be dangerous. It implies risk. I reject any philosophy which tells me otherwise.
As for the practical side of all of this, I’m not sure what that looks like. But I’ll figure it out soon enough.