Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said, “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Christmas is almost here, and with it the impulse to buy, buy, buy. Wherever you look, there are Black Friday deals, Cyber deals, electronic deals and all kinds of deals vying for our attention. And then there are the strident voices on the airwaves inviting us to “Shop till you drop.” The invitation is extended to us as the most natural conclusion to our annual Thanksgiving tradition of getting together, feasting at heavily laden food tables and being thankful for what we have. The implication seems to be, “Be thankful, but shopping is what you are supposed to do before Christmas gets here, so everything will be perfect.”
In Mark 10, we encounter a man, who by all standards is a man of stature and greatness in society. He had obviously gone through life shopping to his heart’s content and seemed to have everything he ever wanted but in great humility he comes to Jesus and asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus tells him, “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven (Mark 10:21)”. In other words, give all your worldly possessions to the poor and then come, follow me. But who does that? We are all guilty of wanting more, buying more, and desiring more than we need. The danger of our times is that the constant invitation to self-indulgence can cause us to become mindless consumers. We can find ourselves imitating culture without any critical thought. As Christmas draws near, I’d like to share a story I came across recently that might help refocus the way we prepare for Christmas.
There was a diamond expert who happened to be sitting on a plane next to a woman with a huge diamond on her finger. The man eventually introduced himself to her saying, “I couldn’t help but notice your beautiful diamond. I am an expert in precious stones. Please tell me about that stone. She said to him, “This is the famous Klopman diamond…one of the largest in the world, but there is a curse that comes with it. The man asked, “What is the curse?” “It’s Mr. Klopman,” she answered.
The true curse of any possession is its ability to steal our hearts and souls. The rich young ruler was a good man in all respects. He had kept the commandments since he was a boy, but he was greedy, he went away sad, because he had great wealth (Mark 10:22) and didn’t want to part with it, and this was the curse. As you contemplate Christmas this year, what’s your curse? You too may be a good person in all respects but does the thought of being counter cultural make you sad or uneasy? Are you holding on too tightly to traditions and things that are a curse and therefore stand between you and eternal life? Are you able or willing to give these up and do something different? What will you do to ensure Christmas is as perfect as God intended? What will you do to ensure that Jesus has his rightful place in your heart? Remember that even now, his gaze is still on you, loving you.
The writer of the gospel of Matthew reminds us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19).” Now, how will you respond to that impulse to buy more?
Dear Father, thank you for loving me and sending your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for me. Thank you also for the blessed Holy Spirit who leads me and guides me into your truth. Help me to live my life purposefully and to value what you value. Give me the courage to be counter cultural when necessary. This Christmas, I welcome you into my heart and my home. Take your rightfuI place in my life and keep me at the center of your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.