We spend quite a bit of time pursuing, collecting and naming all of our possessions. We work hard so we can buy more things. We take vacation so we can get a break from all those things. We play hard so we can use those things. We spend an unhealthy amount of time sorting, labeling, cleaning, collecting, shopping, seeking and dreaming about our things. Our entire lives are consumed by the next thing that we get or that we want.
I’m beginning to wonder if we started to think more like this post I wrote a few months ago, that we could start to have a different perspective on material possessions all together?
I think we have a major flaw in the way we look at the world. We see everything in the world as something that we can own. So over centuries we have mined and moved around and cut down and built things so that we could use the world for what we think it should be used for. We see the world through one lens, and that lens is dominantly selfish one. If everything, everywhere is meant to be owned and possessed by someone. If that someone gets to choose the fate of whatever they own, strictly because they own it based on whatever laws in their society. Then the world has become nothing more than a large shopping mall, that instead of cash, it’s first come, first served and people can take and do whatever they want. Ownership and possession become key to the language we use when we talk about material possessions.
May I suggest an alternative? What if instead seeing material things as something to be possessed and owned primarily we look at material things as something to be shared first? What if as soon as you found yourself with the responsibility of any item, your first instinct was how do I share this rather than how do I guarantee my ownership of it? This takes a completely different shift in the way that we look at everything, but I think it is possible.
If we truly see the earth as God’s and everything in it, then it is unnecessary to see these things inside the world as ours at all. We use ideas of stewardship and responsibility to help us spend what is ours more wisely but there is one flaw in this type of thinking. It presupposes there is anything that is ours in the first place. What if material possessions could only truly be experienced when shared, not when owned? What if we can only truly experience what God has for us in this world through sharing and giving away? I think that if we can move away from a type of thinking that tells us that to enjoy something we have to own it and use it up that we might be better off. The best things in life only become a reality when they are shared with others or given away. The kingdom works this way as well. Why should it be any different with material things?