Materialism and Salvation
I wanted to write a continuation post (from last weeks post) about minimalist religion. I believe our materialistic society has poisoned our religion and it leads to lots of confusion, and misunderstanding. If you are a Christian than you believe your religion and your salvation is a life or death issue. So important stuff right?
The problem comes because our materialist habits lead us to believe we need to ‘have’ salvation. To own it. That we need to do something to get it and then we will possess it. Very similar to airline tickets. You purchase them and then you present them at the gates and they guarantee you will get on. Salvation is not like this.
Salvation is about a connection with a person. There is an invitation that Christ gives everyone that we can accept. This is talked about all over the Bible. I like where it talks about it Romans 3:21-31. Because we don’t deserve salvation, and can’t do anything to earn it, Christ lived a perfect life and died our death for us. Accepting His gift of salvation is called justification and is the beginning of our relationship with God. This isn’t the airline ticket, this is attaching yourself to Christ. Paul, same guy, same book, gives reference to this later in Romans 11:17.
The better reference is in John 15:1-17 where Christ talks about how He is the vine and we are the branches.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:5-8
From this we know:
- Connection is vitally important
- Just because a vine is connected at one time doesn’t mean it is always connected
- Christ produces fruit in us, we can’t do it ourselves.
Where materialism and an underlying believe that we can possess salvation becomes a problem is that it creates a grasping for it and a lack of confidence. These can create a legalistic view. Legalism is trying to do something in order to earn salvation and it goes against both Romans 3:21-31 and John 15. Trying to earn and worrying about making sure we are doing enough is poison because it takes our focus off God and puts it on ourselves. It robs us of the self-confidence and value knowing we are accepted by God gives us. It also results in people giving up because they think they aren’t good enough. Instead of connecting, striving to possess steals the confidence of salvation that it is working so hard to achieve.
We are meant to have this confidence.
1 John 5:12-13 says:
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
This might get confusing because it talks about ‘having’ the Son. That is why we had to look at the other texts first. This kind of having can’t be anything like possessing. Do the branches own the vine or the other way around? Can we possess God? hardly. The assurance is in the connection with Christ.
The tough thing with this is the fact that materialism and possession run very deep in our thinking and behavior. It affects our beliefs and actions without us even recognizing it.
Here in lies some of the beauty of minimalism. With minimalism we see and address these materialistic ideas in the tangible things that we live with. We see and feel the struggle to part with owning stuff and buying stuff just for the sake of owning it (even when we don’t value it). We realize that owning is tied into our personal value very strongly. Strong but silly… how does owning things give us value? Net worth maybe but not value.
Minimalism also helps us practice putting value in relationships. Just like things, relationships can’t be ‘possessed’ and we get into all kinds of trouble if we get this confused. There is a trust in relationships that is not a tangible thing and cannot be owned. It takes practice to have a confidence in something we can’t own. Minimalism as well as Christianity require this practice and the benefits to life are amazing.
Thanks for reading