The present day world is a world of consumption; it is a world in which we are encouraged to gather up all that we can for ourselves. The notion is firmly planted in our minds that if we drive the right car, eat the right foods, and live in the right neighborhoods with the best schools, we will enjoy a better quality of life than those who do not. Living in such a world, the lines drawn between wants and needs becomes blurred. We are no longer satisfied with the basic necessities, we “need” more. In no time at all, the “gods of want” become most tempting. We yearn for the life and riches of others and strive for those things that are just beyond our reach.
This same consumerism tends to creep into our churches as well. People tend to shop for houses of worship just as they might shop for the right school or other social activity. We ask questions; “What sort of programs do you offer?” “What is the style of your service?” Are there activities for our children?” Congregations also, as they compare themselves to others, hope to be more like the larger more popular church down the street; teeming with activity and filled with younger people participating in dynamic activities.
The truth be told, as we continue to place too high of priority on fulfilling our desires and being in competition with our neighbors, we will never experience the fullness of life we crave. We will always fall short because the more we seem to accumulate, the more the world will demand. The eighth commandment teaches us “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (Exodus 20:17). Coveting our neighbor’s property, desiring more than what is necessary and expecting those desires to be met is the tip of the iceberg that leads to discontent and emptiness.
In all aspects of life, God must be at the center of our wants, for it is God who fulfills our need. Jesus teaches that whatever we ask in his name, he will do. It’s the asking in Jesus’ name that is central. As we remember Christ’s example of love for his neighbor, service to those in need and his self-giving sacrifice of the cross, we are afforded the proper perspective for our asking. Keeping Christ at the center of our lives, we ask for that which God sees we need. As we ask through faith, God will provide those things that are good and wholesome for us to live according to his will.
Generous God, help us to see your goodness and make us content with all that you provide, so that what we want is in accordance with your will. Amen.