I’ve been dealing with materialism a lot recently. It surfaces itself in inconspicuous ways — the desire for a car that isn’t a “college car,” the lust for a pink scooter that I could cruise around town on, along with new clothes, more Starbucks, etc. Instead of shopping for my needs, I have been focusing on my wants frequently.
We do need to take care of ourselves and occasionally reward ourselves for working hard. But when I think about the world I have seen — the world where children beg for their next meal and play in sewage water — and a world that is ravaged by earthquakes and cyclones, I realize that I need to have a war-time mentality when it comes to spending.
During war-time, people don’t even think about going to the movies, getting new clothes, etc. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of ourselves or occasionally treat ourselves to entertainment. But if we see that there is a lost and dying world and we say that we are passionate about reaching it, we will live our lives differently. We will spend our money differently. We will pray differently. We will talk about the world we are burning to reach instead of just talking about restaurants and movies we love.
My friend Abby Mathew and I decided about a year ago to do something simple in order to focus more on what matters in life. Instead of spending our money on Starbucks, for one month we spent that money on missions. At that time, I was spending about $30-$40/month on Starbucks, and he was spending at least $100/month. I decided to re-instate the “Starbucks fast” for the next month. It’s not a big deal, really. It will mean me sacrificing a few Frapuccinos, and with that money, my missionary friends in the Philippines will be able to reach a few more people.
In the song “Kingdom of Comfort” by my favorite band, Delirious?, they sing these words that so resonate with how I’m feeling about materialism:
Save me, save me
From the kingdom of comfort where I am king
From my unhealthy lust of material things
I built myself a happy home
In my palace on my own
My castle falling in the sand
Pull me out, grab my hand
I just forgot where I came from