The email arrived and I was immediately captivated by what I saw. Clicking on the link to view the video, my kids wanted to see what was so exciting. Within a minute both exclaimed, “I want one!” So did I.
We don’t see many commercials in our home because we don’t watch TV. As a rule, we prefer videos (DVD’s) because they lack commercials. That aside, what intrigued me was the immediateness of the response. My kids have not been trained to covet through hours of “want this”, and “buy that” advertising. But there it was plain as day. James Bond’s family motto could easily describe our family–the world really is not enough!
“I want more!”
When asked “how much money is enough?”, John D. Rockefeller answered, “Just a little bit more.” Do you feel that way? Sometimes I know I do–especially during this season of fund development just to meet fixed expenses. Most would agree that stuff won’t make us happy. Yet, getting the next new thing still strikes a thrilling nerve within us.
The author of an article in MSN Money, published in July of 2008, makes a telling comment in his opening thoughts: “Wealth alone doesn’t guarantee happiness, but if you can identify your deepest desire, you can create a plan to get there.” Of course, he then outlines a 4 step process to help us find happiness. First, list your top five goals or desires. Second, put a price tag on each. Third, calculate your “enough for life” number. And finally, create a financial plan to get there. I expect to read this in MSN Money. But what disturbs me is the many Christian leaders who tacitly agree with the concept presented in the article. After all, it’s ‘sound advice’.
I do believe our desire for more is tied to happiness, but not in the same way some might assume. Paul, in Colossians 2:9-10 writes, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” The word Paul uses here for “fullness” can also be translated, “to fill up,” “to overflow” or “complete”.
The context of the passages is more about spiritual intrigue (do this, don’t do that, when to worship and how to worship angels) than consumerism. Yet, I think it can be far more widely applied. Our life in Christ brings a fullness (a completeness) that nothing else can provide. Paul is saying here, “don’t get caught up in spiritual intrigue when our lives in Christ provide the fullness, the completeness we seek.” Equally, we can say, nothing else in life provides what our soul most longs for and needs aside from Christ. Giving ourselves to second things still leaves us incomplete.
Augustine“s story provides a great example. Trying out popular religions, living with a concubine from the age of 17 for nearly 15 years and then marrying a 12 year old girl after leaving his first woman, Augustine knew emptiness. Sometime after his conversion, he wrote about his restlessness and the restlessness of all souls saying, “Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.”
Wanting more may not be the biggest problem we face in life. We were made for more. And our soul will only find rest and contentment as we continually turn to Christ.
If Paul were to answer the four steps to happiness mentioned above, I wonder if it would look something like this:
- Greatest desires? To know Him (primarily) and to reflect Him in the world (secondarily) (Phil. 3:10f)
- Price? “Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ” (Phil. 3:8 MSG)
- What’s enough for life? “Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.” (Phil. 4:11-12 MSG)
- Create financial plan to get there? “I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose. (Phil. 1:20-21 MSG)