Today Steve talked about changing our mindset from consumer to steward. He opened with a story of kayaking down the Colorado River with some friends. The guides told them if they flip, don't try to get back in, just float. Steve, of course, flipped and had the time of his life navigating the rapids on his back, feet first. Some of his friends made it successfully from start to finish in their kayaks. But whether in the kayak or in the water, he said, they were all going the same direction. No one was fighting the current. His point: even when we think we are in control, our culture is taking us for a ride down the river of consumerism. (That's my paraphrase.)
He said, the problem isn't spending, it's wanting. We have to change our desires. He used Jesus' words in Mark 10:17 ff:
17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him,“Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have keptall these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [g]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
(Side note: I am struck by the words in verse 21: Jesus felt a love for him.)
Jesus focuses on our relationship to other people. The five commandments He quotes here are from the second tablet, the six commandments that deal with our relationship with others. (The first tablet have the four commandments dealing with our relationship with God.) This is significant because it is not about POSSESSIONS but about FOLLOWING JESUS WITH OUR POSSESSIONS.
Steve used an illustration of a triangle. On the three corners: God, my possessions, and the state of my soul. Steve said, if you bump one corner, the other two will move.
Lately I have been researching the Indians of Pennsylvania. Ask me sometime; I could go on for hours. For now, suffice to say, Native Americans have a different way of looking at possessions. They don't have any. Or, at least, they don't own land. They use it. They take what they need from it, always leaving some in reserve so the land can refresh itself, and then move on. Because they know it does not belong to them. The food they eat does not belong to them; always they said a prayer and offered gifts to the hunted animal so the animal would give its life so that the Indian might eat it and live. In terms of home: shared with extended family and easily dismantled or not (in which case it was left behind and a new one built somewhere else). In terms of farming tools and other objects: a man owned his hunting gear, a woman owned the farming equipment and household goods.
As I was listening/watching the video this morning, I was struck by the contrast. The Delawares, Shawnees, and Susquehannocks (among other Pennsylvania Indians) had little, but they had enough. When Europeans arrived, the Natives they met were "giants" because they ate better than "civilized" man! Several sources I have read say that there was no envy among the Indians -- if one saw something he wanted, the other gave it to him without question, even to their last piece of meat or the clothes off their backs.
They had little.
But they had enough.
And this reflects what Steve said in episode 5 of "Soul Shift": A steward is generous and content.
It's not about what you have or don't have. (It's not about what I have or don't have!) It's about learning to be content. And that is when we shift from being a consumer, to being a steward.