Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
We in the United States are fortunate to live in a wealthy and technologically advanced society, where many of us enjoy a standard of living far above that of poorer countries, or our own country a century ago. Even a "poor college student" like myself has indoor plumbing, refrigeration, use of a washing machine, clean water, electricity and internet access. One might have expected that people so fortunate would be free to turn their attention to matters beyond material possessions, and that our society would reflect this priority.
On the contrary, society in the U.S. prizes money, possessions and status as much as ever. We are bombarded by advertisements to convince us that we need everything from a new car to expensive beauty products and shoes. Advice to students focuses on career success, measured by how much money you earn. News stories endlessly compare the current political candidates by their fundraising, their advertising, their status in the polls. The underlying message is the same: Success, wealth and property will make you happy.
At this time in history, the words of Jesus 2,000 years ago are as relevant as ever: "Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where it grows rusty and moth eaten, and thieves break in to steal it. Store up treasure in heaven...for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also....You cannot serve God and Money." (Matthew 6, 19-25).
This does not mean money is unimportant, or that wealth is forbidden to Christians. We all need some material possessions to survive, and up to a certain point, more money and property does create happiness. The message of this Scripture is instead about fundamental priorities. Living a life of service and obedience to God is the first priority. If we are blessed with material comforts, that is good, but it is not the most important thing in life. A person who is not at peace with God and within themselves cannot find happiness from any number of possessions.
I pray for all of us, that we may find our way to the lives God would have us live, whether or not they fit our society's standards for "success."
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