Why do we keep acquiring more possessions when we clearly already have enough?
Why do we stare into overstuffed closets and tell ourselves that we have nothing to wear?
Why do we tend to live in a house way larger than our family truly needs?
Why do we get a brand-new car when our current mode of transportation is more than adequate?
Why do we eat out so often and eat way more than we need for daily sustenance?
Why are we so obsessed about our physical appearance and fitness?
Why do we employ modern medical technologies to ward off old age?
Why do we invest so much time and money on our vacations?
Why are so many of us in debt?
Why does illicit sex seduce so many of us?
Why do we so often envy what other people have?
The answer is simple. It’s found throughout the Word of God, particularly in the book of Ecclesiastes, and we verify its truth every day with our desires, words, actions, and purchases: we are searching for life.
God created us as spiritual beings to have a life-defining, soul-satisfying relationship with him, but the Fall shattered that perfect union. So with groaning souls, as we await the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23), we can’t resist searching elsewhere for identity and contentment.
A comfortable house, a new car, a cute outfit, a delicious meal, a relaxing vacation, a gym membership – none are inherently evil. I’m not suggesting that you dump all the pleasurable items and experiences in your life.
I will suggest, however, that materialism is capturing our hearts and eating up the time, energy, and resources of our lives (see Matthew 6:19–33, Isaiah 55:2, your calendar, bank account, and sources of anger, anxiety, and excitement).
You and I tend to be captivated and controlled by whatever we think will give us life:
- The bride is transfixed by her fiancé because she believes he will offer her life;
- The new employee is excited by his new job because he thinks the position will supply him with identity, or the increased salary with the ability to purchase things which give life;
- The couple is vibrating with anticipation as they turn the key to their new house because they think they will find and make life there;
- The Hare Krishna convert is enthusiastic because he is convinced he has finally found the meaning of life;
- The older woman is depressed and bitter because she feels that life has passed her by;
- The teenager will cross any boundaries you set in an anxious and immature search for life.
It’s important to preach this theology again and again because we continually make the profound mistake of looking horizontally for what can only be found vertically: earth will never be your savior.
But take heart. The Creator of the heavens and earth is also your “I am with you always” Savior. He meets you with strength in moments when you are weak. He graces you with wisdom in moments when you’re acting like a fool. He fights for your soul even when you don’t fight for yourself.
You don’t have to conceal your materialism in shame. You can run into God’s presence in weakness and failure, knowing you will receive mercy and not judgment.
1. What recent evidence verifies that you are still prone to search for life horizontally?
2. Where were you searching, and what were you hoping to find? How has Christ already supplied all of this and much more?
3. How have your earthly searches for identity and contentment resulted in failure and frustration in the past?
4. Is there anything in your life that’s not inherently evil but that may be interfering with what God is calling you to do and who God is calling you to be? Would you struggle to sacrifice this?
5. How can you share with someone this week that life is only found in Jesus? How can you practically connect their search for life with the truth of the Gospel?