The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wanting It All

How does one define success?

In this American culture success is largely defined in the material. While money may be the root of all evil, few would argue that net worth has established itself as the yardstick for measuring one's degree of eminence. Consider the number of people in this country who now find themselves facing foreclosure as the housing market continues its decline. The desire for a house, that ever trumpeted American dream, was so strong that people risked it all just to have a slippery handhold on the lower rungs of the home ownership ladder. The payoff was not a treasured heirloom to hand off to future generations. It was not a place to build a community. It was simply a calculated investment purchased with dreams of riding the wave to higher riches.

And in many cases, it was all an act. Home ownership was a facade for the rest of the world that one had made it. One must be successful to own such a high priced house in such a good neighborhood. Real estate agents, mortgage brokers, praised the potential buyers for their acumen in taking the adult risk or making the sacrifice with the veiled promises of huge returns. Husbands and wives convinced one another that they could make it even if half or more of their take home pay was going toward the mortgage. The payoff would be worth it.

It was all a canard.

What meaning does one's net worth have to God? Very little if one looks at scripture.

And Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."
Mathew 19:23

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like the flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
James 1:9-11

Wealth in itself is not intrinsically evil. It is the pursuit of it that often leads one down the road to idolatry. The chase for the material is what causes the mother and father to actually believe that it is reasonable to abandon their child into what Dr. Laura has rightfully labeled a day-orphanage better known as daycare. To consider the option to suffer the loss of one of their incomes and have to exist in a lower standard of living is simply an untenable notion. Both parents must work. Their financial and social success depends upon it, and their hope is that their child will reap the fruits of their labor one day, and the sacrifice to the god of money will be rewarded.

Christ does not preach the amassment of money in this life. He cares not where one lives; what car one drives; or how many zeros grace the end of one's bank balance.

Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
1 Peter 1:13-16

Holiness is the definition of a successful human life. It represents the prize all should want. Within it contains the peace, the beauty, the majesty, that no amount of earthly wealth even slightly begins to purchase. The irony of holiness rests in the reality that it costs nothing of true value. Being of God is a moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day choice. One is a saint not because of some great body of work or study or even super natural gift. One is a saint simply because one wants to be a saint. The things of earth are set in their proper priority and God is put first in one's life. When that happens, owning a piece of the American dream looses its luster when juxtaposed to having a share in the eternal kingdom of Heaven.

If one "wants it all" God lovingly, willingly gives His very self, free and clear. Why settle for the finite material when the infinite is within one's grasp?


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