Saturday, May 24, 2014

Possessing Without Being Possessed

What do you want out of life? Do you want success? Enough money to be satisfied? A spouse with a couple of children? Do you want a job that will challenge you but still leave you enough time to do what you want? What are your dreams, your ambitions, your goals? They tell a lot about a person and their relationship with Jesus Christ. Then again I forget that most of us don't take him into consideration when planning our lives.

Sometimes things can look legitimate to us, having purpose and a place. By any means of measurement they are normal and just. But when measured against the Kingdom they suddenly appear small and unimportant. The whole thing depends on what measuring rod we are using to determine importance.

Jesus spent his life, possessing nothing, to bring the Good News to the people of Israel. He healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, cast out demons all while he taught about the Kingdom and spread the Good News. He had a different set of priorities, a different perspective, a noble purpose. His measuring rod was far different than the people who surrounded him. Then one day a voice out of the crowd shouted:

"Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me" (Luke 12:13)

In the midst of his selfless giving this must have struck Jesus as odd. Here he was offering eternal life, freedom from everything that possessed the heart and mind, yet this person was only concerned about a family inheritance. Maybe that doesn't strike you as odd. Maybe it seems quite reasonable to you, but when you are faced by Jesus, do you really think possessions are the priority? Jesus first answered the man:

"Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" (v.14)

Then he said to the crowd, giving insight into the priority of the Kingdom:

"Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." (v. 15)

I know none of us think we have a problem with materialism but that's because we are comparing with people around us. We figure we don't have very much so it can't apply to us but when we compare it to the Kingdom we begin to see some things we may not want to see. I sit here and think "I don't own a lot" because I live in a small apartment and don't own a car. However, I own two desk tops, a laptop, four tablets and three cell phones. I also have three large screen TV's (some were gifts), and a nice camera. I own about eight bicycles. I could go on. According to certain parts of the world I am a very rich man. But the real danger is not in the possessing but being possessed.

Nothing belongs to us; it all belongs to Jesus. We died with Jesus so we no longer own anything in this world but are stewards of all that is in our possession. They have a purpose and need to be used for Jesus' glory. Sometimes he moves his resources around and we must be willing to let go of anything we have been taking care of for him. But too often we don't want to let go. Too often we can't let go because those things have defined us, they bring us great pleasure and we can't imagine living without them.

This is the real danger, when possessions take the place of Jesus in our lives. Our delight and pleasure should be found in our Lord. He defines us. He gives us purpose. He possesses us. We should be willing to let go of anything he requires because it belongs to him anyway, but it is a difficult attitude to measure. We almost have to take an inventory and consider if we could live without the various things currently in our lives. It also takes a tremendous amount of honesty because all of us are quite good at lying to ourselves.

We live in a society where material possession means wealth and most people I know would like to be wealthy. But we belong to a Kingdom that values spiritual wealth above everything else and when possessions are possessing we may hear our Lord saying, "Go sell everything you have, give it to the poor, then come follow me." Perhaps it is a good time to do some self-evaluation to know where you are in relation to all of this. Are you Kingdom centered as good stewards of the Lord's resources? Or are we earthbound, anchored to possessions that have no real value in the new order? What do you want in life?

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