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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 🙂


  1. This post as well as your previous one, Minimalist Christianity, are both so well written. Thank you for putting into words what has been in my heart and mind for quite awhile.

    We do make our relationship with God complicated at times. It really is simple and the Bible is filled with scripture to teach us just that. I so enjoy your blog and how it’s written from a Christian point of view…thank you.

    • you are so welcome, thanks so much for coming by and reading 🙂

  2. MIchaela MIchaela

    I’m blessed by this, Lorilee…thank you for sharing what you learn with the rest of us!

    • Your welcome 🙂 J was telling me all the things you were getting involved with down there. Congrats!

  3. Kendra Carlson Kendra Carlson

    I never looked at it this way before, but have struggled with the grasping – especially with people relationships. I know I can’t deserve it with God, but I wanted so badly not to lose the people in my life that I wanted to know why they loved me so I could be sure not to mess it up. Now that I’m older, reading your post, I see the beauty of the un-possessive nature of relationships. The freedom that chooses to be here with someone! Makes materialism seem unnatural – a whole big hoax because it gives us the FEELING that we are in control. The real switch for me is realizing that control won’t actually satisfy me, only trust will. Thanks!

    • yeah, the first step is to realize it, but actually acting on it and living it is tough.. I struggle too.

  4. Great post!

    I love the connection between materialism and thinking we need to do something in order to earn our salvation.

    But we don’t need to. And that’s the beauty of grace.

    • amen!

  5. Another excellent and thought provoking post Lorilee! I’ve never thought about how possession of things actually affects our mental attitude towards things like relationships and faith. But upon reflection I see that this makes a lot of sense.

    This is quite eye opening.

    I’ve always gotten the concept that focus on things takes us away from focus on God. But until now I never fully understood how it changes our focus on God as well.

    • thanks, glad you liked it 🙂

  6. Carol Jordan Carol Jordan

    This is an interesting subject in the materialistic world that we live in. I have read Katie Davis’s blog for years now and back in 2008 she mentioned a sermons series being preached at a church in Birmingham that had moved her and suggested that all who read her blog might be blessed by watching that sermon series. The preacher’s name is David Platt and the title of the series is “Radical: What the Gospel Demands”.

    Here is the description for the series:“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” With these words, Jesus turned away large crowds who were following Him. With grace and authority, He beckoned potential followers to consider the demands of discipleship. For most, the price was too high and the cost was too great. In the 2000 years since Jesus spoke these words, it begs the question: Do we in contemporary Christianity realize the high price of following Jesus? Do we understand the great cost for all who call themselves followers of Christ? Take a closer look at the words of Jesus that require us to consider the implications of the Gospel for every facet of our lives.”

    I do not believe that this is a matter of salvation by works at all. I believe that the way to salvation is through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

    I do believe that through believing and loving Jesus we will be drawn to seek ways to follow him with full abandon of self. I don’t think in any way that it is earning heaven. If that makes sense.

    I will forewarn you that this is a heavy radical series.

    This is a multi sermon series that can be found at

    This sermon series has been published in book form with the same title.

    May God lead each of us into a closer relationship with Him and may we be willing to follow wherever He may lead.

    Thank you, Lorilee, for being willing to seek God’s will in your life and then being willing to share. Blessings on you and your readers as you travel this road.

    • thanks for sharing the series. I will have to check it out 🙂 Francis Chan hit it too in his book ‘Crazy Love’. Read it over a year ago now but I really enjoyed it.

  7. William William

    You sure do have mature wisdom and insight for a 30 something year old. It takes a good deal of Bible study and prayer to gain that knowledge. I’m more than twice your age, and glad to see a young lady living for the Lord and family.

    I’m impressed with you, and enjoy reading your blog.

    PS: How about some pictures showing your apartment in China.

    • William, I will work on getting some Chinese apartment pictures. It is a cute apartment, but the really cool stuff is outside our apartment so that is what I have been posting pictures of 🙂

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