"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
-Book of Philippians, Chapter 4
I think about this verse a lot.
Some people think that the Bible promises that if you follow Jesus, you'll get rich.
They believe that if you just do the right sorts of things, God will bless you with wealth and prosperity.
I do believe that God brings great wealth to those who choose to follow him but, the more I think about it, the wealth that God offers to us is often unlike anything we'd expect.
This verse often comes to mind when my funds are tight; I think about it while I'm trying to budget so that I can pay rent and bills and such, but it goes beyond that...
I also think about this verse when I see things that I desire to acquire, in the interest of putting on a better "show" for those around me.
Since my roommates moved out a little while ago, my apartment has been relatively bare. I am lacking quite a few things that, it would seem, are necessary to run a home. Mixing bowls, another couch, a bed frame and bunk spring, a kitchen table and chairs.
In fact, most things in my apartment, at this time, are actually gifts from friends. Individuals who have blessed me beyond words, and have met my needs when I couldn't meet them myself.
All in all, it's bare.
And somehow, in my simple mind, this bareness is a reflection upon me as a person. It's something that shows that I'm not competent enough to live independently.
And sometimes I feel embarrassed, to be honest, that I don't have the things that others are blessed with. Sometimes I find myself wishing that I had what so-and-so has, or being discontent with what I do have. I am coming to see that it's always dangerous territory to be venturing into when you begin wishing for the things that others possess.
When I met Tim, from the "Far From Home" post, things started to change in my head.
Maybe God didn't have prosperity and wealth in mind when he inspired Paul to write this bit of instruction to the Philippian church.
Maybe we have taken the verse itself out of context, and made it mean what we want it to mean.
Maybe glorious riches aren't an allusion to abundance and being well off but, rather, having enough.
Can you imagine a world in which people didn't always desire more, but instead chose to be content with what they had?
The idea of being full, of no longer craving more, is beautiful, but does being "full" require that you have an abundance of material things? Do we need stuff to fill us?
In America, especially in the college scene, money dominates much of our conversations. Talking about things like rent, and being stretched thin till next paycheck. Talking about how we wish we had money, and all the grand things we'd do with it.
What would you do if you had a million dollars?
Life would be so much simpler wouldn't it?
I find it humorous that we often associate simplicity with accumulation.
"If I just had this, then my life would be that much better."
Can you relate?
Yet, if we desire simplicity in our living, then shouldn't we be finding ways to rid ourselves of stuff?
It's incredibly ironic that no matter what the amount of the pay raise is, or the bonus we receive, it is still never enough to satisfy.
Maybe there is a different way to think about having our needs met by his glorious riches.
Maybe the goal of life isn't the pursuit of a life that is thought of as good, but rather a claiming of the good life that we have within our grasp each and every day.
Maybe if we, as Americans, took a look into the lives of the less fortunate...
Those who have no homes.
The children whose families don't have enough money to buy shoes for them.
The people who walk everywhere they go, but not by choice.
Those who have lost family and friends to war and plague.
Those who work around the clock, just to make ends meet.
Those who won't have an opportunity to go to school in their entire lifetime?
Would we then start to see that we do indeed have enough?
Would the car we own, regardless of condition, be a blessing?
Would we still tell our acquaintances how stressful trying to pay our rent is, during our $4 a cup Starbucks therapy sessions?
Would our classes and educational opportunity still be a hassle or a blessing?
Would our job still be a bore?
We are not entitled to abundance, we are blessed with it.
We are not created to accumulate for ourselves to find happiness, we find it in using what we have to the benefit of others.
These were the principles the early church understood, and wholeheartedly embraced.
They are principles that many who have been raised in the prosperous western Christendom don't understand.
Glorious riches aren't a state that can be attained through seeking more.
We've had them all along.
His glorious riches are revealed in the awakening of self, the appreciation of the things we do have, and the realization that enough is filling.
And, in that moment you may just find that you are suddenly rich in the things that matter.