Six days ago, I bought a laptop. It's not top of the line, but it does all I want it to do--basically I can write on it and listen to music. With some of the reading I have been doing, I have had thoughts blazing through my head (imagine that!). One of the best ways to organize and process all of these, in my experience, has been writing. So, to think through these things, I began writing, and after reading yet another chapter from Blue Like Jazz, I realized that I have an addiction. I am addicted to stuff. I'm not addicted to cars (just look at mine) or anything big. I'm addicted to all sorts of smaller "fixes".
For instance, rarely can I walk into a bookstore without buying something, regardless of whether or not I am actually going to have time to read it. In Louisville, I have a six foot bookcase, a three foot bookcase, and several four foot stacks of books within my room. In boxes at my 'rent's home in Nashvegas, I have (count them) nine large boxes of books. There's no common theme in my collection, save the fact they all have words. They range from children's books such as The Lorax to William Butler Yeat's poetry to the complete works of Sir Author Conan Doyle to a complete Civil War history. For the most part, I will read anything that's put in front me to get my fix.
All of us have our addictions if we are honest with ourselves. We're not all alcoholics, pot-heads or druggies, but we are all addicted to something in life. For some it's the constant need to be in a dating relationship (commonly called co-dependency). For others, it's an addiction to television. For me (and I'm not alone in this, I'm sure), it's books--among other things. None of these things are bad in an of themselves (of course drugs are not a positive). The problem comes when they become an addiction for us. We crave them more than we crave anything else. We focus on those things, those people more than we focus on Christ. These addictions become idols.
As I was pondering on my addiction, I realize the vast amounts of money I waste. I do receive enjoyment from buying and reading the books I buy (of course, I don't read all of them--they just look good on my bookshelf), but the money spent could be used in so many other ways. They money could be given to missions endeavors. It could be given to help the poor. It could be used to ease the suffering of billions around the globe. I know my tithe goes to these things, but can I do more? Is the money God has given me been used to the best of my ability?
Christ commands us to aid the poor. He commands us to meet the needs of brothers and sisters in need. He commands us to love others as we love ourselves and consider others before ourselves. Am I doing this? I'm not going to get into a huge diatribe on social justice and ministry as I'm still forming what I think and looking at different things, but I have to confess I do very little on my own to further the Kingdom of God and to help those in need (just a side thought--aren't these two items really part of the same whole?). I am honestly so concerned about myself--my pleasure, my comfort, my wants, that I do not even look at other people. I love to get love. I serve to be serve. I give to be given to. Even my "selflessness" is, upon closer inspection, selfish.
Are our addictions keeping us from Christ? Are they keeping us from serving Him to our full ability? Life is not some play about us in which everyone else are mere bit actors. Life is about Christ and about other people. That is where we find meaning and purpose. We are valued by God on the basis of His grace and merit, and are made right and put into a right relationship with Him to not only worship Him, but to serve our fellow man and expanding Christ's Kingdom.
There's a lot here, I know, and I hope to unpack it fully in the near future. Stay tuned.
until Christ is formed in us...