I have been reflecting heavily on a line from a Joe Pug song. Pug is contemporary folk artist and his song Hymn # 101 is extremely devotional. The line in particular that has struck me as of late says this: the more I buy the more I am bought, and the more I am bought the less I cost. The line picks up on the old question, ” Do we own our possessions or do they own us.” We all know that it is true that the more we have the more we are bound by it. I speak from personal experience. Last year I bought a house and a new car, and let’s just say I will be “friends” with my bank for a long time. To some degree those two possessions own me.
It’s not that owning things, of course, is wrong. That would be a wrong deduction to make. Yet I can’t help but wonder if we are trapping ourselves more and more with each new thing we buy. It feels nearly impossible to go back to living the way you used to once you raise your standard of living, yet to maintain that standard we have to do more, work more, earn more, etc. You see how the cycle works. A number of television shows recently have picked up on this reality, most notably Weeds, on Showtime.
I have only seen a few episodes (and probably wouldn’t recommend it) but the story revolves around Nancy, a mother of two whose husband recently died. She is left, then, with a massive mortgage and standard of living that she can no longer maintain, and her response to this predicament is to sell marijuana. A suburban mom sells pot because she is trapped. From what I hear the antics only get worse for Nancy as she continues to try and keep her life together (promiscous sex, secret marriages, and violence).
Obviously that’s a pretty extreme example and I don’t assume that those of you reading this are in Nancy’s boat. Yet I can’t help but feel that those of us who claim Christ as our greatest treasure aren’t living in light of that truth. I know I have to take some time to reevaluate my life and allegiances. If I am bound by my possessions what am I communicating to the world around me? What am I communicating to my children? Is Jesus my treasure or not?
It is a material world we live in, and we can’t escape that. Yet we must be on guard that the material things we have, need, and (rightly) enjoy don’t take Christ’s place in our hearts as the greatest treasure we have. Don’t end up like Nancy, or even some milder version of her.