Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pampered Americans

There are some things that, seriously, are done or found "only in America," such as:

25 kinds of peanut butter
because you know some people cannot just have
Creamy but need
Extra, EXtra, EXTRA
while others only like
Extra, Extra

A Starbuck's Coffee on every corner
since driving 5 more minutes to get a
cup of coffee would be unthinkable you know!
(and it would be even worse
to just drink Folgers)


You always hear, "Look how much I saved!"
and you spent $1,000 to save $50?
Oh yeah, makes sense to me...
+ + +

This weekend I went to a Pampered Chef party. I like their products. I want their products. I own some of their products. I could spend a lot of money buying their products. I have friends who own ALL of the products.

Seriously, though, do we need an "avacado" colored knife that costs $16?

There are gadgets, tools, spoons, knives, cutters, slicers, dicers, bowls and pans for everything. You can wash, dry, chop, and serve your salad in one bowl. (Ooooo, ahhhh!) It could probably eat it for you too. Slight exaggeration, I know...

And the PRICES. I have not been to a Pampered Chef party in a couple of years so I forgot how ridiculously priced these kitchen toys are! I know that some people would try to tell me the old, "You get what you pay for" thing, but that doesn't work with me. The Walmart spatula for $1 works just fine AND if it does break I can buy a replacement 12 times for the price of one from Pampered Chef (which equals $12 by the way- for a spatula!).

I could go on. You get my point, right?

+ + +

It burdens and grieves me that we dump so much money into frivolous things. I am definately guilty, as we all are, so do not think I am just frowning on Pampered Chef products.

What about $200 car payments? (or $300, or $600)
Clothes that HAVE to come from designer stores? (when thrift stores have great variety!)
Spending $8 for a salad when eating out? (when that same price could by a week of salads)
Budgets for Starbuck's? (someone I know has a monthly $50-$100 budget for Starbuck's)

It is everywhere in our culture. From childhood the materialistic part of the secular worldview is impressed into our minds so that it all seems normal. We are so good at justifying and rationalizing our expenses that we cannot even see the wastefulness behind it all. We can explain away the reasons why we had to make certain decisions and purchases.

Christians are just as prone to materialism. We unbiblically call possessions blessings while pouring our lives into serving them. Our children have to do soccer, ballet and music lessons. We buy new clothes and eat the best food. Of course we need to keep up with the world so we also own the latest in technology, see all the new movies and try all the new restaurants. American Christians find tithing difficult. A missionary speaks at church and if we are in a good mood we might find $10 to give him. (Meanwhile the parking lot is full of new cars.)

I am not calling for a "sell all you have and live in poverty" kind of Christianity. That mindset, while I have met those who believe it, is not Biblical either. Rather, I desire for people who claim to know Jesus to be wise with what God is lending them. Nothing is ours in this world. We can take none of it with us when we die. There is a spiritual war raging around us. A war for Christ-likeness. A war for souls.

What does history display about how people handle money during a war? Every penny counts. Cash is hidden between matresses. People are careful, not frivolous. Old cars must be driven in order to feed the family. New clothes are not an option. And people are content because they know their countrymen are fighting for the freedom of the nation.

My plea is for a Biblical, war-like lifestyle. What if we all lived in such a way, being so careful and deliberate with our money that...

... missionaries had all they needed?
... the homeless were fed?
... our pastors could focus on ministry?
... orphans were in homes?
... wives could stay at home?
... Bibles were translated into every language?
... missions organizations were fully funded?
... no one was on welfare?
... no one was hungry?
... everyone had warm clothes?

... everyone had the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus?

Do these issues matter to us as followers of Jesus? They should! It matters to Him.

They should be of more value to us than new clothes, nice furiture, cool cars and eating out. A desire to see these become reality should so burden our hearts that we ARE WILLING to sell all we have to see them come to pass.

The problem, though, is that we have cheapened grace. Grace too has become a possession that we buy, own and sell. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, states,
This cheap grace has been no less disastrous to our own spiritual lives. Instead of opening up the way to Christ it has closed it. Instead of calling us to follow Christ, it has hardened us in our disobedience. Perhaps we had once heard the gracious call to follow Him, and had at this command even taken the first few steps along the path of
discipleship in the discipline of obedience, only to find ourselves confronted by the word of cheap grace. Was that not merciless and hard? The only effect that such a word could have on us was to bar our way to progress, and seduce us to the mediocre level of the world, quenching the joy of discipleship by telling us that we were following a way of our own choosing, that we were spending our strength and disciplining ourselves in vain- all of which was not merely useless, but extremely dangerous. After all, we were told, our salvation had already been accomplished by the grace of God. The smoking flax was mercilessly extinguished. It was unkind to speak to men like this, for such a cheap offer could only leave them bewildered and tempt them from the way to which they had been called by Christ. Having laid hold on cheap grace, they were barred for ever from the knowledge of costly grace. Deceived and weakened, men felt that they were strong now that they were in possession of this cheap grace- whereas they had in fact lost the power to live the life of discipleship and obedience. The word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works.
Grace is costly. It cost Jesus His life. It will cost your life.

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Matthew 10:37-39

7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Philippians 3:7-16

11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 3:11-14

6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:6-19
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Some may say, "What's the big DEAL, Jaclyn, it's JUST Pampered Chef!"

I would answer, "How many things are we going to excuse before we FULLY surrender to Christ? It's just a movie. It's just one drink with dinner. It's just a kiss. It's just a sermon. How many?"

Grace was too costly for me to waste my life with excuses. Money is the resource God has given me to bless others with food, clothes, housing... and most importantly... a way to hear that Christ is their treasure!

I want to live to prove that Christ is more precious than life! This conviction will permiate every area of my life and leave none as they were before. I must destroy the secular worldview inside of me whether it is the culture I have grown up in it or not. I have to be conformed to the likeness of Christ. If our whole lives are focused on getting and maintaining possessions then we will look like everyone else in the world. Jesus then becomes apart of life and not life ITSELF. If He is not treasured by us then why would anyone else treasure Him?

Nice houses, cool cars and fat bank accounts will never point people to Jesus.

*Disclaimer: The author claims NO perfection in the aforementioned topic. God is severely convicting her in regards to her monetary wastefulness. She is disgusted by Christians who waste so much money when she herself is exposed to so much world-wide need. She does not want to be one of those people, even though she is disgusted by herself so many times...


Katie said...

Preach it, girl! No one will ever accuse you of a lack of passion in conviction. Thank you for holding me, and everyone for that matter, to a higher standard. Without it, I would still be content with the puddle : )
Love you

Spanish Morning said...

Hmm...good thing most of my Pampered Chef stuff was gifted to me. ;-) I do agree with what you posted, but it was hard to read and not feel attacked with all the references to Pampered Chef. And at least we never followed through with budgeting for Starbucks -- though it never ever would have been close to $50!!! That's absurd!

What do you say, though, about enjoying some of the abundance God has given us? Or do you think ALL excess should go to ministry with no excuse for any frivolity whatsoever? Things like flying to CA instead of giving that money to missions, going out for dessert rather than giving that money to the church, etc. I'm curious!

Spanish Morning said...

And just to cover my tracks, I do agree that giving to ministry IS enjoyable. But I'm asking what you think about spending money on things that are enjoyable but not ministry related.

Jaclyn said...

I do not want you to feel attacked... I love PC products and I know you have them all! It still is the basis from wence this post came. :-)

Is enjoying things wrong? No. Can God be glorified when we enjoy good gifts? Yes! I am not calling for a poverty, woe-is-me, I never get anything nice or fun kind of lifestyle.

The question for me is: when does enjoying the abundance become frivolity? I think it is less frivolous for me to come to CA than for me to have a nice car. Our friendship is eternal and glorifies God in ways that having a car that I pour hundreds of $ into will not. Sure sure, a car can be used to glorify God, like PC products and taking someone out to lunch... blah blah blah.

It is all a mindset. It is a mindset of wastefulness and materialism that has to be confronted with the cross. We get so good at justifying things, whether it be trips to CA or eating out. We get so good at saying things like, "I forgot to bring my lunch to work today, it's just $6 at Wendy's." Or, "This shirt was only $10 and it is better quality." And, "God has blessed us with $ to enjoy life." I've said and thought ALL of those a million times in my life!!!

When I look at the life of Christ I see no frivolity. I see no excess. When I look at the lives of great men and women of the faith I see sacrifice and stewardship (and by stewardship I don't mean having a budget).

Sure, we are living in different times, eras and have an abundance compared to what people of the past had. But, what IS the mind of Christ? Truly, what would he do with a $60,000 a year salary? Or $20,000? Or $5?

I am fleshing this out in my life, Dawn. It is HARD. It is the culture and worldview that I was born into- so it is not easily changed inside of me. I am seeing how much I rationalize and excuse purchases... little or great.

But, OH, there are those who are dying apart from Christ! Not that my money would save them... but it could assist. Not that God needs my money, NO, but He demands my surrender, my obedience and my stewardship. He wants me to show the world that HE is more precious than a $5 Starbuck's drink. HE is more precious than a new car, nicer clothes and an abundance of possessions. I want my mind to be conformed to His.

Does that mean I am NEVER going out to eat again? Does that mean that I cannot come visit you in MD? No... I don't think so. But, if He called me to give it up for His sake I want to be weaning myself of all pleasures for that day.... and the mindset that goes with it. I do not want to look back at my life and see thousands of dollars spent on excess things. I want to see Christ exalted in me. (which will cost $ for sure...)

For He is better... and making Him known to the nations is better.

I hope that gives you more of a view into my mind... I think I can do better. I think I can go without "abundance" and fun things for His sake and for the sake of the Gospel. I think too, that enjoying life is ok as well. I am not going to beat myself up for how I have spent $ in the past- nor will I be a monk and abandon all pleasures.

But I might not have new things. I won't buy PC. I'll keep shopping at Goodwill. My kids will have fewer toys. And in exchange for some of these small things... I pray that God will use my $ to further His name.

All I know for sure... is that I have a long way to go to be like Jesus!