Living like a dead person might be the best advice you ever received. Think about this with me. When you pass away, will you care about what others think of you? Will you care about where you work or if you accomplished enough? Will you care about how big your house is, how expensive your car is, how much money you will have? Nothing of this world, will have any influence on you. Let’s read why scripture says to live like a dead person.
1 Since you became alive again, so to speak, when Christ arose from the dead, now set your sights on the rich treasures and joys of heaven where he sits beside God in the place of honor and power. 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here. 3 You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does. Your real life is in heaven with Christ and God. 4 And when Christ who is our real life comes back again, you will shine with him and share in all his glories. 5 Away then with sinful, earthly things; deaden the evil desires lurking within you; have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires; don’t worship the good things of life, for that is idolatry. TLB Colossians 3:1-6
When you become a disciple of Jesus, your life, your real life, is with Jesus. That means, this world should have absolutely no influence on you. Can you imagine the freedom you would have, if you lived like this?
How do we practically live this out? How can we be people that live in this world but not influenced by this world? …deaden the evil desires lurking within you; have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires; don’t worship the good things of life, for that is idolatry.
You were created to love people and use things. Sin enters and takes what God created and messes it up. We become consumers. A consumer is the person who loves things and uses people. A consumer pursues, they worship, the good things of this world. That means all decisions in life are based on getting the good things of this world even if it means we have to hurt people or at least, ignore the poor, to get the good things. And the good things of this world control our emotions. We are happy when we have them. We are miserable if we don’t have them. We are critical and jealous of those who have more than us.
I want to share five things that happen to us when we become consumers. When we pursue the good things in this world like we are supposed to pursue God. And I have to add this: we never see it. You never see the pursuit of money as wrong. We don’t see that we are worshiping the good things of life. Why? Because consumerism is so ingrained in our culture. Where live, it’s normal to ignore people and pursue things. You are actually weird if you are debt free. You’re weird if you don’t go on vacation to save money to pay off debt. You’re weird if you give money to church. So five things that will reveal if we are consumers.
First, Spiritual poverty. 15 “I know you well-you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other! 16 But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 “You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. TLB Revelations 3:15-17
We look at what others have, we compete with them to prove our value. We are jealous or become victims if others have more. We are okay if they have the same. We feel good about ourselves if we have more. So we pursue the good things of life and we fail to pursue our relationship with God. Inside we feel spiritually messed up. Miserable, poor, blind and naked. But on the outside, we look pretty good. Let me ask you, are you stuck in spiritually poverty?
Secondly, Pride. 4 With your wisdom and understanding you have amassed great wealth — gold and silver for your treasuries. 5 Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich, and your riches have made you very proud. 6 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you think you are as wise as a god, 7 I will bring against you an enemy army, the terror of the nations. They will suddenly draw their swords against your marvelous wisdom and defile your splendor! 8 They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die there on your island home in the heart of the sea, pierced with many wounds. NLT Ezekiel 28:4-9
In our pursuit of wealth, we can gain wealth and something begins to grow inside us if we aren’t careful. It’s called pride. It’s this way of living that says, look what I did, I don’t need God now. We begin to ignore God, we don’t have time for God. Why? We have wealth. Let me ask you, are you better off with more money or more of God?
Third, Anxiety, Stress and Fear. 18 “So listen to the meaning of that story about the farmer. …what is the seed that fell among the thorny weeds? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching but lets worries about this life and the temptation of wealth stop that teaching from growing. So the teaching does not produce fruit in that person’s life. NCV Matthew 13:18-22
Is this you? You hear about God and his grace and love it. You are inspired by what you hear but when you go home, you live in anxiety, stress and fear about money. Jesus says, that’s the reason you struggle to produce love and joy and peace in your life and share that with others. You don’t see it as a pursuit of money but that’s what it is. You can’t be happy unless you have money. Let me ask you, how do you walk through life? Do you enjoy each day or does your fear of tomorrow steal your joy of today?
Fourth, Meaningless Life. As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. NLT Ecclesiastes 2:11
One of the realities of life that can be tremendously depressing is that most of everything you accomplish has no lasting value. The only thing that lasts and is passed through the generations, is your love of God and how you treated others. But when you are in pursuit of the good things in life, you buy new things, you build businesses, you accomplish you to do list and while you do all of it, you live a life that is empty. You look back on everything and realize, it was all useless. Let me ask you, are you pursuing things, pursuing accomplishments or are you investing into people?
Lastly, it blinds us to the mission of Christ. 21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sadly, for he was very rich. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “It is almost impossible for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” TLB Matthew 19:21-23
This young man couldn’t understand the Jesus mission. Jesus came to redeem people, not build up this man’s bank account. He couldn’t see it. He couldn’t understand it. He wanted to follow the rules but not follow Jesus. He wanted money, he didn’t want to serve people. Let me ask you, if Jesus said, “Give over 10% of your money to MRC for the advancement of God’s kingdom, what would you say?” Would you struggle with that? Go home depressed? Or inspired to be a part of the advancement of his kingdom?
How do we know we are consumers? Are you stuck in spiritually poverty? You are busy doing so much but you fail to pursue God.
Do you believe that are you better off with more money or more of God, this reveals your pride?
Do you enjoy each day or does your fear of tomorrow steal your joy of today, this reveals who you trust?
Are you pursuing things or people, this reveals if you are living a meaningless or purposeful life?
If Jesus asked you to give, how would you respond, this reveals if you love the Jesus mission or not?
Consumerism means we love things, pursue things, worship things, and are okay with using or hurting or at least ignoring people. As a disciple of Jesus, that not right. We need to reverse that. We love people and use things.
Here is what you do. First, you have to decide how you measure success in life. Is it the things you get, the home you live in, the comfort you have or is it helping people in need?
Second, you have to pursue God. I can’t read your bible for you. I can’t pray your prayers. Your pursuit of God is up to you.
Lastly, get real practical. Engage the mess of others. Volunteer at Paxton Street Homes in Harrisburg.