The everyday world in which we all live consists of two types of reality. There is the world of things – the material world. These things can be touched, constructed, bought and sold. Our house, our car, our TV, money, clothes, food, etc. We spend a lot of our time and energy wanting, obtaining and maintaining the things in our life. Our desire to possess such things makes the economy function; things can be bought and sold, accumulated and stored. People make things for us to buy. We work so that we can buy the things we want and need. Advertisers create adverts that promise us happiness and success if we acquire such things.
But there is another part of our lives which is also very important. It’s the non-material part of our lives: love, joy, belonging, hope, and peace. It’s the things that shape our character: patience, resilience, determination, kindness, empathy and self-control. It’s the things that form the fabric of our lives: friendship, someone to love, being loved, family, children, trust and community. It’s the things that shape how we see the world: our beliefs, faith, philosophy, ideas, world view and the values by which we seek to live. It is the experience of big love, deep suffering, of falling, of failing, of grace and forgiveness that shape us and make us who we are. But these things are not things at all, they are part of the non-material world. They cannot be bought or sold, but this non-material world is what makes life worth living.
I believe that the most important things in the world are not things. What’s more I believe that in our hearts we all know this to be true. When someone gets sick, when someone dies, when a baby is born, when we fall in love we all know that it is this non-material world that matters.
The daily news will endlessly fill our heads with the treachery of the human condition. Advertisers will continually try to seduce us into believing that owning this or that product will make us happy. But how do we feed the non-material or spiritual side of our lives. Through these columns I’ve tried to present a way of looking at the ordinary things of life and having them enriched by interpreting them through the lens of faith. For me that means following Jesus. As unfashionable as that can sound in our post-modern, material world I remain fascinated and challenged by the life and teaching of Jesus.
Meanwhile, I hope there are days when your coffee awakens you to the unseen, days when a sunset takes your breath away, days when the kindness of a stranger feels like the hand of God, and days when your spirit rises to discover possibilities beyond your imagination.
Jesus said, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” (Matthew 5:8 The Message)
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister