Enslavement to materialism vs freedom for the human spirit

I’m sitting here in Starbucks enjoying a cup of coffee (Pike Place roast). This relaxing [in]activity gives me an opportunity to do a little self-reflection. Seems like it’s not often I get to do this these days.  While on vacation in Vancouver (my birth place), I noticed some changes since I moved away from this city many years ago: old buildings and houses torn down to make place for new buildings; increased real estate prices; lots of fancy cars; good food; and etc–all the fanciful things one would want to satisfy a carnal life.  What has not changed are things like: damp weather caused by rain-cloud covered skies; green trees & grass; the rush of people and traffic; and the beautiful mountains and ocean sitting in the background.

What seems to have changed the least and also the most, are people’s self-perceived need for material things.  On one hand, materialism has always been prevalent in the heart of humanity.  On the other hand, materialism has never been as popular as it is today.  When lives seem empty, we try to fill it with things, and more things.  Such things might be things-to-do and material things—all to satisfy our need for affluence, status, and pleasure.  Why?  Someone once said:

“Much of our activity these days is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.” – anonymous-

Mahatma Gandhi said:

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

How true?!  We  try to spend money to buy things to impress people and/or gain status.  We think that status, affluence and pleasure come from having more material things.  This is a deception.  When human beings chase after the material things of this life, this chase can take forever and never have an end to it.

The sad thing is that the Christian church has also fallen prey to this deception.  Many of us Christians have grown up listening to the false and twisted gospel of prosperity—that God gives to those who help themselves.  Some actually think this is a quote from the bible.  What has happened to our Christian understanding that discipleship involves suffering and sacrificial giving?  Jesus’ message of the cross has been forgotten.

How did we become so ignorant of what brings true happiness and freedom?  When we began to believe that our security comes from having enough money and material possessions.  Rather than being liberated and free from material things, we have become enslaved to it.  Materialism, the idol of the 21st century, is an endless and futile chase for things that can never satisfy our human spirit.  When our inner human spirit (which is immaterial and created for spiritual things) becomes dependent upon earthly things (which is material), we become self-enslaved to an insatiable desire for more material things.

The love of money and material things is a distraction to the kingdom of God. Regarding the kingdom of God, St. Paul the Apostle said:

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The love of money and material things is a distraction to the kingdom of God.  If Christians are to have a clearer understanding of the kingdom of God, we must realize that our spiritual nature was created to live in fellowship with the Spirit of God.  Such is the will of God.  Holy Scripture also says:

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for [Jesus] has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The Spirit of Christ wants to fill humanity with himself in order that we may live in unity with our Creator God.  When Christ enters our lives, the Spirit of God becomes our endless source of joy and freedom.  God is humanity’s only and final source to true fulfillment.  Spending more time to contemplate upon such things of God’s kingdom affords one the opportunity to seek the things of God.  Allow the Spirit of God to fill you with more of God’s Self.

2 thoughts on “Enslavement to materialism vs freedom for the human spirit

  1. Neatnik, this temptation of materialism can have such a stronghold on us. It helpful to be self-aware. I’ll be on the lookout for the film “Ermo”.


  2. My best answer to your question about why we seek material comforts when we ought to seek Christ is that we like that to which we can apply at least one of our five senses. I have not been immune to this temptation, and I have yielded far too many times. My punishment has included having to put the thing (whatever it is) somewhere. By the way, the best movie I know on this subject is a Chinese film called “Ermo,” about a village woman who saves up her money to buy a large television set. She discovers that having it is a real bother.


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