Eating lunch in a French cafe last week, Sam and I were playing a game called: You just won the lottery, what will you do with the money?
It’s a useful exercise because the question really asks: Without limitations, perceived or actual, what would you do with your life?
“Well, I’d have a nice ranch with cattle,” he said.
“You already have that.” I reminded him.
“I’d travel more.”
“What are you talking about, we just ordered lunch in French.”
“Ok, I’d buy a new truck.”
“Come on, you’re going to do that anyway.”
What we think we want is money. What we really want is joy.
It’s tempting to believe we could have better lives if we only had more money. Obviously in some cases that’s true, but in France I caught myself wishing I too could drink wine on my sparkly, white yacht before sailing to Villefranche or Monaco. Unfortunately, that craving threatened to eclipse the simple joy of watching the boats from my balcony in Nice.
Even though I know better, I still behave like money guarantees happiness. Please everybody, raise your hand if you know a wealthy person who is a howling, insufferable mess.
In my mind, that is best answer to the question: Why bother with Jesus?
When you get everything you want and it’s still not enough, crushing despair is often the bonus in the box. What do you do then? Go get more boxes? Buddha said that wouldn’t work. Jesus did too. He said over and over, don’t strive, don’t hoard, and he followed up with this advice:
“While you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and there is nothing that I need,’ you have no eyes to see that you are wretched, pitiable, poverty-stricken, blind and naked. My advice to you is to buy from me that gold which is refined in the furnace so that you may be rich… All those whom I love I correct and discipline. Therefore, shake off your complacency and repent.” Rev. 3:17-19
Before I was following Jesus I wasn’t greedy, I was complacent, which is a different and hard animal to break. So, how do you buy this gold from Jesus? What does that look like in practical terms? Here’s my hunch:
- What matters to Jesus is usually opposite of what matters to us. So plan on that.
- It’s going to involve doing things for people who won’t say thank you. Rinse, repeat.
- It will cost something, probably a lot, maybe everything.
Wow, that sounds awesome sign me up!
But what if the return was joy? What if by buying this gold, rather than coveting and hoarding ours, we could live with unspeakable joy? What if your joy bank was so full, overflowing so lavishly on other people, that they followed you asking your secret?
Would you do it?