Do We Need All the Stuff?

So hot they’re cool, so cool they’re hot. Yeah, right. Tonight instead of popping up and flying across the room, my Pop Tart popped up and then fell into the depths of the toaster. I had to rescue it through the crumb door.

I came across an interesting dilemma tonight. My fiance and I were doing some pre-registering shopping, checking out the stores to see what we needed and where we wanted to register. While we were browsing through all the gizmos, gadgets, and mounds of stuff you need to fill a house or an apartment, I began to feel a twinge of guilt. It didn’t manifest itself until we were in a furniture store and I started to realize just how expensive some of this stuff is. I couldn’t help but wonder if we really needed it.

American society tells us all this stuff is a necessity. But is it really? While at the furniture store I sat down in front of a really nice cherry desk. I sat down in the leather chair, and put my hands on the cardboard keyboard. My dream is to be a writer when I ‘grow up,’ and working at a desk like this one would be what I’ve always imagined when I see myself working. But as I looked around and started adding up the parts of the desk, I realized it was worth more than my first car. That probably isn’t saying much considering we’re talking about furniture, but that price tag still shocks me. What I couldn’t understand is why I should shell out that kind of money if I can get by with a cheap Salvation Army desk and my college milk crates. Couldn’t that money be put to a better use?

And here is where the [insert overused cliché here], and you find out just what your faith is all about. Could that money be put to better use? This summer I met a man named Leon. Leon lives on the streets of downtown Chicago. He sits on the same corner, day after day, week after week. He sleeps in an alley and survives on the kindness of others. If Leon had the kind of money I was thinking of spending on a desk, he could get himself a place to stay, and from there could find work. I could give a homeless man a home. With that in mind, I don’t feel right about buying a nice desk for myself. Why should I have a thousand dollar desk when Leon doesn’t have a roof?

I’m not saying that everyone needs to give up all their possessions and give them to the poor. I think to some extent this is a personal choice. I don’t feel right spending my money on top of the line furniture when something lesser will do. I don’t expect everyone else to make the same choice. However, I do think that God expects us to be responsible with the wealth he’s blessed us with. And you may want to tell me you’re not wealthy. I’m a college student, how wealthy do you think I am? You’re on the internet, you have to be fairly well off.

It’s a struggle between what we want and what we need. I’m daring to say that we don’t need that much. I’m still trying to figure it all out and figure out exactly what that means, but I think we can get by with less. Jesus didn’t even have a place to lay his head. In that respect Leon is a lot more like Christ than I am. I think as Christians we have to struggle with this issue. The insignificant sum I spend on cola every year could feed a starving family. Does that mean I have to give up cola? I don’t know. It’s a difficult question, and one we should stop ignoring. I certainly don’t know the answers. My fiance didn’t quite agree with me either. It’s something we need to struggle with.

“‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah 22: 16 NIV

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