“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbiter over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” (Luke 12:13-15)
If ever a people needed to hear this warning from Jesus, surely it’s people in the United States of America. Consider the following warning, with a few others that might be added for Americans living in the twenty first century.
- One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. This is the explicit warning of Jesus in Luke 12, and it’s a warning that Americans need to hear. We are the ultimate consumer culture. Our economy is driven by consumption and advertising. That advertising often appeals to our sinful tendency to think that more stuff and better stuff will result in more happiness and greater happiness. Jesus warns about this temptation.
- One’s life does not consist in the world of social media. Others have fallen into the trap of thinking their life consists in the digital world of social media. Likes, comments, shares, retweets, and comments all provide the social media poster with a tiny hit of dopamine that leads us to believe more social media interaction and affirmation will make us happy. It’s a massive lie that leads to and endless cycle and debilitating digital addiction.
- One’s life does not consist in the experiences one has. Still others have fallen for the lie that experiencing certain things in life is the end-all-be-all of human existence. Those experiences may be vacations, recognition, marriage, child birth, drug use, or any other number of things. We crave these experiences, and we covet these experiences when we see others getting to do the things we dream about doing. Ultimately, we’re left chasing the next experience, often based off our social media fueled envy.
- One’s life does not consist in the sexuality one expresses. This is perhaps the most popular lie Americans believe in the twenty-first century. Our complete acceptance of expressive individualism coupled with our insatiable desire for sexual gratification has led us to affirm and celebrate just about any expression of sexuality. Additionally, to deny anyone the right to express their sexuality is now tantamount to oppression, abuse, and violence. Americans really believe that expressing our sexuality with no restraint will lead to happy, fulfilled, content lives. Again, it’s all a lie.
One’s life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions, nor does it consist in the social media persona one cultivates, nor does it consist in the life experiences one pursues, nor does it consist in the sexuality that one lives out. Rather, one’s life consists in seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting that God will provide anything else we need along the way (Matthew 6:33).