02 October 2008

Luxury, Comfort and Simple Living

The next satirical stanza:

I am suffering:
I haven't the money for luxury.
But someday I'll be happy,
When I retire for certain.

For now I will be comfortable.

Last time I said that throughout this I address issues that I am seriously dealing with. Here the issue hits at the heart of simple living, work, and the American dream. John Piper said:

Getting old to the glory of God means resolutely resisting the typical American dream of retirement. It means being so satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Christ that we are set free from the cravings that create so much emptiness and uselessness in retirement. Instead, knowing that we have an infinitely satisfying and everlasting inheritance in God just over the horizon of life makes us zealous in our few remaining years here to spend ourselves in the sacrifices of love, not the accumulation of comforts.

The world says that I need to have luxury. If only I had the excess of money, I would buy that car, that house, that big flatscreen tv. As long as I don't have them, I am suffering.

The world's answer to this problem? Retirement. Just trudge on through the working years, live it up on the weekends to hold you over, and build up some wealth for retirement. Then the real fun begins! Then you get the Cadillac and move to Florida. Luxury! You've earned it, after all.

I am resolved that the next time someone asks me what I plan to buy with my new-found income I will answer, "Happiness." I hope then the inquirer will realize how ridiculous the world's lie is.

Since I'm obviously not biting on this lie, how exactly am I struggling with this issue? It's in the last part with being comfortable. Luxury is not much a temptation, but comfort I refuse to surrender. These words, luxury and comfort, seem to be relative for each person; luxury to me is probably mere comfort to a millionaire, whereas my basic comfort level is likely seen by the impoverished as luxury. For each individual, luxury is extravagantly more and comfort is just a little more. The sin is to say in my lack of luxury and even in my lack of comfort that I am suffering, because that is selfish arrogance. I must keep in mind those who are legitimately suffering. It is not love for my neighbor when I complain, "If only my 1,000,000 square foot home was 10 degrees cooler! This is unbearable!" Arrogance.

I don't wish to say right now that having "stuff" is bad in itself. The danger is losing a sense of gratitude for all that you are given. Yes, it is given, not earned. I am contending that those who continually harbor that thankfulness and a remembrance of people with less will be compelled to help those people. Then the luxuries become sour and the "sacrifices of love" become sweet.

I've heard something of "treasures in heaven." What's that about? Hmmm...we'll get there.

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