Let’s talk about loving God and loving God’s gifts.
Now this is something I am really still struggling with a lot. Let me set some stage here.
I was talking with a good friend of mine recently and he was talking about how he didn’t want to go to a prayer group because he felt like his concept of God was wildly different from the more conventional Christian mindset. He gave an example where one of his friends in that worship group made a reference to adultery or sex. The friend said that absolutely he shouldn’t be coveting his neighbor’s wife but by all means he should be able to go home and make sweet love to his wife as much as he wants.
On one level you can say, “Well, sure. That’s in accordance with the commandment of not coveting another’s property or another’s spouse or anybody else’s relationships.” That’s all good.
God Versus God’s Gifts
But I think if you take it a little bit further, we have a tendency as humans of gravitating towards the physical. The physical: All of the stuff that we have around us—our cars, our homes, our clothing, our jobs, our friends, our social circles—the things we possess. Even our bodies—our physical appearances.
It’s all God’s gifts, right? You’ve got God, the Giver, the Creator and you have God’s gifts. I don’t know many folks who aren’t in this trap already, a daily trap of being fixated on God’s gifts.
We may occasionally be thankful for God’s gifts. We may occasionally show gratitude for God’s gifts. But usually we’re concerned about losing God’s gifts or we’re praying to God for more gifts. “Lord, please help me with my car because it’s making new sounds,” or “God help me out with a better job, a higher paying job, more responsibility, less responsibility.” “Help me out with my spouse. We’re fighting all the time.” “Help me out with my kids. Make them more harmonious,” or “Help me to put some more jeans in the wardrobe.” Whatever.
First, God is not Santa Claus, right? We can agree to that. God is not Santa Claus.
But then, two, are we loving God or are we loving God’s gifts?
I think for me, this was a recent revelation. I’ve been eyeing cars. I think my car is about to fail (maybe.) It’s making new sounds and it’s an older car. A while ago, I was listening to some Dave Ramsey material. If you don’t know who Dave Ramsey is, he’s a financial expert. Through the results of one of his talks, I said, “All right, Lord. This information’s coming in. I need to probably adopt it. I’m going to sell my Jeep Grand Cherokee.” I loved the vehicle; I loved it, loved it, loved it. But I was paying over $300 a month for it and that was not so acceptable, so I took the information that had come to me and I put it into action. I ended up selling the Jeep. I was a little heartbroken about that, but with the proceeds from selling the Jeep, I was able to go out and pay cash for my next car; an older Toyota Camry. I bought it with 171,000 miles on it.
Well, now it’s got almost a quarter million miles on it and it’s making sounds and the struts are gone. The car is only worth about $2,000 but struts will cost about $1,700 and now it’s making some brake noises. You start shopping. You think, “Ooh, that car looks good,” and “Oh, that might be a nice car.”
You Are Not Your Belongings
We fixate on other people, we fixate on other things, and so much of it comes from identifying with the body as being us. We think that this fleshy vehicle that we use to maneuver through our day is us. It’s not us. We are souls. We are not bodies. If you cut off an arm, are you still you? Yeah. You’re still you. Your body has one less arm. That’s it.
An outgrowth of being fixated on our bodies is being fixated on other people’s bodies, it’s being fixated on things to cover our bodies, it’s being fixated on our comfort, it’s being fixated on our appearance; all of these things—our homes, our cars, our clothing, our people—it’s all God’s gifts to us. We live in this experience. We surround ourselves, we collect, we amass these collections of stuff and it separates us from God. We start to fixate. I think this is why Christ says, “It is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven.” It’s because we’re fixated on all this stuff that we surround ourselves with.
“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! …how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23-25)
If you’re fixated on all of the material around you, where does that leave room for God?
What Is Your #1 Priority?
It is only by reducing our attachment to our stuff—to our bodies, to our clothing, to our relationships—who is the most primary relationship in your life? Most of you will probably say spouse. Many of you may say kids. You may say parents. You may say best friends. Ideally we would say God, but how much time do we spend with God as opposed to everybody else? Well therein lays your priorities, right? If God is your priority, what are you doing to close the gap between you and your Creator? What are you doing to clear away the clutter in your life in order to make more time for pursuit of God? Because guess what folks? We are intended to seek God. There’s over 40 references in the Bible to seeking God. It is not enough to be born again and to relax and rest and say, “Christ died on the cross for me. I’m forgiven. I’m done. I’m good. I belong to the club.” It’s not enough.
Begin Paring Back
If you are seeking God—if you’re seeking to close the gap between God and you, by continually diving into scripture, by meditating, by praying, by acts of service to fellow man and womankind—one of the other things I would suggest is to cut back on things that take up your time, things that take up your resources, things that separate you from God mentally and physically.
That’s my message today: Are you loving God or are you loving God’s gifts?
Are you in love with God’s gifts? Are you in love with the life that you have wrapped around yourself, the live you have accumulated for yourself? Yeah, you can say, “God’s given me everything and I’m really thankful.” Okay, but why do you do what you do? Is it to sustain the accumulation that you’ve brought to yourself or is it to honor and point others to God?
That’s the challenge. That’s what I’m struggling with. I would love an Audi A7. I would love a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. I would love to infuse more clothes into my wardrobe. I would love to take my family on more trips. I would love to do things to our home like new paint here or different maintenance things. Oh, goodness. You know, more vacations, more free time, more just more, more, more, more, more.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (riches).” (Matthew 6:24)
When is it enough? Recently, I have found the most peace I’ve experienced in years in chasing after God. I have spent years on seeking to build businesses and build communities and do all this stuff and it’s all been about making a dollar, improving my own personal income, therefore my own household’s income and therefore quality of life. More comfort, more options.
None of that really reflects on being in it to win it for God.
The Meaning of Life Discovered
Over the past year, it’s been a real shedding process of getting things out, whittling down businesses, cutting off worldly business efforts and rechambering for God, really getting in and reassessing where I’m spending my time, where I’m spending my money and beginning to focus more on studying scripture, studying supporting documentation and even getting to the place now where I’m thinking of getting into a pastoral certificate or something along those lines. Just something, some work to get me closer to God. I’m doing lots of studying right now. Most of my evenings these days are turning away from supporting clients and money-making activities and is leaning more into garnering more of an understanding about God and creation and our purpose in it, which I’m coming more and more to believe, our purpose in this is to cleave to God.
That’s it. That is our game in this environment that we’ve placed ourselves. It is our responsibility. Our primary directive is to cleave to God.
That’s it. It’s that easy.
Why are we here? That’s the answer to life: To cleave to God.
All right folks. This is enough for now. This is Matt Schoenherr. If you’ve got any questions or comments or goodness, I would love to hear from you, so if you feel like you would bless me with your opinion, place some comments and open up the dialogue. I would love to talk with you about your thoughts on this post or any of my other posts. Let’s have a dialogue. That’s how we bring benefit to the world is by sharing our journey, sharing our experience.