Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stuff

We all like STUFF. It can be any of a variety of things, or many things, but a simple almost universal weakness is STUFF. I wrote this in response to a posting on our church’s youth group blog that spoke of wanting “a shiny new BMW.” I’ve only altered it a bit here, to make sense to the audience here.

Cars are shiny. Cars are fast. Cars make neat sounds and push you back in the seat. Cars are freedom. A cool car makes us feel cool. (excuse my aging verbiage, please, but you know what I mean) Cars are one of the best examples of STUFF that we often crave.

Why do we crave STUFF? There are a couple of big reasons. We get marketed to by masters that know how to pull all our heartstrings of desire for acceptance and coolness. The price of every car sold in the U.S. includes, on average, in the neighborhood of $1800.00 for marketing. We each pay for the privilege of having others think what we drive is cool. We also see others with STUFF and we want it, too.

But what are we really buying? Get a cool car and half the people (the half that are easily impressed and not all that deep) think you are cool, about another quarter of the folks that see you are jealous or saddened because they have bought into the whole cool STUFF thing, and know that they can’t afford something as cool, and the last quarter just doesn’t notice at all. OKOKOK a few folks think you got a nice car and deserve it for working so hard, yeah, that can be true, too, but not with a Bentley Continental GT, the current way-cool car for cats with way fat wallets to the tune of $150K plus – just to get around town, right. (Yeah, I’ll admit I have the desire for cool, too, but I’m close to getting over it - uh-oh - I just got that whole lust for STUFF thing going in my brain just by writing the words Bentley Continental GT – aaarrgh – there it is again - dang, gotta stop that ;>)

Ya see how that works?? We have all taken in so many impressions about what is cool, and what cool brings us (and ladies, it might be $120 A&F jeans with rips in them and paint on them already or shiny jewelry or the biggest house on the planet, or it might be cars and yes, guys think huge houses are cool, too) ... so many impressions of what cool brings us ... that it’s really hard to not respond to the mere mention of the cool thing. All the images of smiling beautiful people in the cool thing or with the cool thing, all the nice sunsets and balmy breezes we’ve seen on TV, all the reassuring words from the perfect voice telling us that WE WILL BE COOL TOO if only we have this cool thing, all that is stuff that we’ve been sold. It’s not our thinking; it’s thinking we’ve bought into because masters of manipulation have sold it to us. I think there’s even a major in manipulation at some colleges, oh yeah, they call it marketing.

Let's forget about STUFF for a moment and think about the real things we want - how about acceptance? Who do we really want to be accepted by? The cool folks? C'mon, it ain't them that we need. We need to accept ourselves before we can hope to be accepted by anyone else. Ask anyone a few decades of age that has known true love and they will tell you that nobody else can love you ‘til you love yourself. Truth.

But Jesus accepts us simply because He loves us. And with that acceptance and love we find some comfort in our own shoes, walkin’ the walk of life, alone except for Jesus by our side. With Jesus we find a base on which to build, a base that supports us through good times and bad, one that will actually support us when we fall down. Amazing guy, Jesus, I am thankful to be gettin’ to know him. With Jesus’ love, we start to love ourselves. Our real selves. For who we are and for what we do. Not for what we have or who we hang with. For us. And Him. Thank You Jesus.

And with that comfort, we begin to find real relationships with real people based upon real caring and real situations that aren’t just drama show.

We get that unconditional love from our parents, too. Hard to realize sometimes because they’re always tellin’ us what to do and we don’t always want to do what they tell us. Hmmm … isn’t that the way we are with Jesus sometimes, too? But a parents love for child is something only a parent knows – total desire for one’s child to succeed to their best ability and to be happy with who they are. Sounds like Jesus again, doesn’t it?

Almost enough preaching for the moment –

Here’s the problem with shiny new anything. We really like the “new” more than the shiny, more than the anything. We all buy stuff thinking it will make us feel better only to find out a year or two down the road that the new is gone and so is the feel better. The masters of manipulation have gone ahead and created the next cool thing, the thing that just happens to make our old cool thing look just old.

Jesus isn’t like that, He’s always fresh. We’re reading parables in my men's group and each of us is amazed that we always get something new from them, they are fabulously refreshing and stimulating each time. We find applications to real life we hadn’t considered before and fresh thinking to carry with us out into the secular marketing driven world we live in. And they comfort us as we go. Amazing.

What’s a car without a friend as a passenger? What’s a house without a family? What is jewelry without the smile of a loved one giving it to you? Which part of each of these is more important to you?

2 Comments:

Blogger JMG said...

I don't know how I managed to miss reading this earlier, but this is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. I had a mental image a couple of weeks ago of Jesus and the disciples walking around from place to place, and they were all hitched up like a team of horses to a trailer that contained their stuff.

Like most Americans, I have lots of stuff, and I have aquired all of this stuff so that I can have a better, more convenient, easier life. I had to have a new computer to make my job easier; I got a new SUV so that I'd feel "safer" on the road; the list goes on. But now I see that because I have all of this stuff, I am more tied down and less free than before. I have to work to pay for all this stuff, and I have to keep a close eye on it to make sure that no one steals it. All the stuff that I thought would help me to enjoy life is actually enslaving me.

I'm praying daily that I can be more like Jesus--less preoccupied with material possessions and more concerned about the people around me.

5/30/2005 7:34 AM  
Anonymous mish said...

Shiny
New

call it what you want, it's all the same

Money.

I reread this article and had epiphanies along the way this past week. I picked up on the marketing scheme from GMotors for "employee discounted" vehicles. My current vehicle is awesome, and even though I got peer-pressured into it from my husband, I still count my blessings that it even starts in the morning. I digress.

So I check out the employee discount. I'm not sure why. I think it has something to do with what Rich was saying that it's not neccesarily about the shiny, but the new-ness of it. I wanted something new, but I would only accept it if it was better than what I had. So I looked. and what did it get me.

a half an hour of looking at my car in a whole new light.

I also went to visit a friend's church and help them out with worship. Sometimes, it's the syndrome of grass-is-greener like in the current Honda commercials. I came out of their services praising God that there is a home for me to go to where I feel free to express my love for Jesus.

New.
Shiny


But on my faith soujourning, I've mused that perhaps this idea of daily dying and rising isn't such a bad idea. It's a rhythm or balance to life. If then statements.

"how can light and dark exist? You cannot serve two masters... ever."

7/05/2005 3:17 PM  

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