Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2:15-17 ESV
You would think, for a former missionary, that this would be an easy one, right? Yeah – not so much.
I’ve realized, since we returned to the States, a subtle shift in my thinking. At first, moving home was sort of like walking into a candy store. Oh, wow, now I can buy a house, and my kids can do all this cool extra-curricular stuff that wasn’t available overseas, and we’ll all be happy and prosperous. And secure.
The Holy Spirit had to nudge me then, in our first months after resignation. Even in North America, He told me, my contentment and my security was to be found in him. I listened, sort of, while I bought the house and signed my kids up for soccer and Girl Scouts and basketball and … hmm. Funny. None of that felt as satisfying as I envisioned it would when I was sitting overseas.
It wasn’t that I regretted returning to the States. God had clearly led us here, and I had (still have) complete peace about that decision. The problem wasn’t geographical. It was heart-o-graphical. I had begun to set my heart on the things of the world instead of Him.
And, it goes further than houses and soccer games. It goes right to the heart of American culture itself. Americans are all about finding financial security. Sure, lots of us don’t have it. Many Americans even live contrary to the principles that produce it, but we all want it: enough money to live on right now, enough to go out to eat and buy what I want. Enough saved for retirement, enough to send the kids to college, enough for a vacation every now and then. And then, just in case, we take out life insurance and health insurance and car insurance and disability insurance and long-term care insurance.
If I had all that, why then I’d be secure. I’ve thought that very sentence. Have you? It’s a lie to its core. All that – the salaries and annuities and insurance – will be gone in one fiery instant. If some war or financial catastrophe doesn’t do it, our own deaths or Christ’s return will. What will remain, then?
God. The Great Depression did not touch God. Neither did any war that has ever wiped a nation and all its financial infrastructure off the map. No money crisis has ever affected God, and none ever will. He is the only place we can truly find security.
Houses and soccer leagues, pay checks and IRAs – these are not sinful things by themselves. They can be gifts from God. But when we look for contentment in them, we’ll come up empty. And when we look for security among them, we’ll find that we’ve built our lives on quicksand. Instead, Jesus beckons us to do what seems extremely unwise to an American’s eyes – to live wholeheartedly for him, even if that means financial insecurity, discomfort or even suffering.
Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. Luke 17:33 HCS