I wrote a journal entry yesterday, but I hated it so it was scrapped. I’ve been getting back out in public today. It feels good. I’ve been cooped up in my room for the last five days and the fresh air is liberating. Our house is just too stuffy upstairs. I don’t like it. I wonder if our last house was like that upstairs. You get so used to the dry coldness of the middle floor without insulation that when you finally get insulation, you hate it. Last night I found myself sweating while I was just sitting there. It wasn’t anything because of sickness either; it was simply because the room was stuffy.
Going to Tyler’s dorm, watching a movie at Gateway, and going to Starbucks have all proven worthy of the drive. Nothing amazing happened at any of the three locations, or at least not yet because I’m still at Starbucks. But getting out in the world amongst people has been worth it. I don’t believe God made us to be alone at all. Even if you live your entire life never talking to somebody, at least there are people around you to annoy you, look at you, to be looked at, and maybe even to smile at.
There’s something transcendent about being around people. Even though I know only one person in Starbucks (oddly enough, Mohan), I feel good about being around people. Throughout my life I’ve viewed myself as that quiet guy who likes to get away from people, but now I realize I need people, even if they don’t need me. I need them to keep me sane. I’m naturally quiet and introspective, I guess, but that doesn’t mean I have to be alone. These last five days have taught me that driving several miles to sit in a Starbucks for the last forty minutes it’s open is worth the drive. It’s worth the gas, the possibility of getting my car broken into, and the $2.95 for a Grande Caramel Apple Spice. When you start looking at all the benefits there are in being around people, you start to look at the costs as nothing at all. Or at least nothing significant.
Certainly there is wisdom using what we’ve been given well, but there’s also the importance of not becoming attached to the money we’ve been given. Even if we aren’t materialists who simply hoard up our belongings and our wealth, we can still worship the money we have by placing a massive dependency upon it. A lot people in this world – including myself at one point in time – live their lives for financial stability. I want to write well to get the good job to get the nice house to get the nice comfort zone of a checkbook. It seems quite ridiculous if you really think about the concept of placing our comfort into a dollar bill. If you’ve got a dollar bill, pull it out for a second. Take it and place it on the ground beside you. Get a feel for your size in comparison to this dollar. Think about things like, “Can it catch me when I fall?” Try that if you like, but put on a helmet just in case the little green thing doesn’t grow arms big enough to hold you up. Even if you are the smallest human being on earth, you are still bigger, much bigger, than a stupid little dollar.
Think of this question too, “Will it be there for me when I need someone to talk to?” Sure it’ll be there, but it won’t talk to you. It won’t give you the advice you need, like “Commit to your wife,” or “Be a man and apologize to your father.” It won’t tell you that your dependence in it is misplaced. It won’t tell you that the alcohol you’ll buy with it is a waste of time. It won’t tell you that you can’t buy happiness with it. It won’t be honest with you. It’ll tell you lies, it’ll deceive you on purpose. Why? Because your dependency in it, your love for it, is a trick of the devil. The dollar is just a tool, a puppet, that the devil uses to ensnare us. And he’s pretty good at it.
It seems like there isn’t any alternative, doesn’t it? A question I’ve asked many times before is, if I don’t have my money, what in the world will I have? We’re raised in a culture that places so much dependency, so much trust, in material items that when it finally comes to the point where we want them all gone, something fearful appears: nothing. We picture ourselves living on the streets, jobless, and digging through trash cans for food. We don’t seriously believe this will be us, but the image scares us. The image lets us know that we better get back to the money and material items before it’s too late. But that’s the very thing: we’re looking in the wrong place. Since we expect our every comfort to be something with a physical presence, we automatically look there as the next thing to uphold us. Our dollars are gone, our material comforts with them, and we somehow think there’s something else coming around the bend. There is, but it isn’t really a thing; it’s more of a being. No, it isn’t any mere man; it’s Jesus Christ, the God man.
We don’t expect much from Him, since He looks like a regular homeless person, minus the drunken smell and the cracked out twitch. But when He approaches us and we look into His eyes, something overwhelms us. We’re overcome with sorrow, with guilt, with shame, with memories of failure, and with absolutely nothing to offer Him. But He doesn’t care. He wipes our eyes, rips out the old, diseased heart in us and replaces it with Himself. The feeling is transcendent. The reality of it, though, ironically makes it unbelievable. We are filled with doubt that a Man who appears to have absolutely nothing is actually the only Man to give us everything. And since we have everything we need in Him, we look down at our alcohol, our money, our drugs, or whatever our addictions may be, and we throw them away. The cloud-nine feeling we have with Christ is enough to encourage us to let go. People will keep us sane, money might keep us from poverty, but only Christ can keep us from slavery.
When we go around telling other people about Jesus – not about Christianity or the church we attend, but about Jesus – they start to see the beauty, peace, comfort and freedom in Him and then they want Him. If this process continues for a while, a community of Jesus freaks is created and suddenly we’re able to trust, forgive, and love each other. It isn’t long before someone walks by living a life of slavery and begins to offer his financial comforts to us, thinking we’ll be excited by his shiny green dollars. We look to each other and realize how ridiculous we once were. The money, the drugs, the alcohol, the clothes, the shoes, the cars, the jobs, the images, the false identities prove worthless when we realize Who we have within us. Early in my walk, the passage about Jesus telling Satan we only live by every word that comes from God’s mouth didn’t make sense (Matthew 4:4). I tried to picture someone else eating pages out of the Bible, but it just looked strange. I pictured someone else because I didn’t want anyone else to think I would ever be that crazy. But when Christ really entered my heart, that is, when I finally manned up and let Him, this passage made sense. We live by Christ’s love. Christ is the Word that God spoke into motion all those years ago, and it is Him, His love, that we feed off of. I know, it looks a little more complicated than just this, but that’s the gist.
We give up who we are to be made to who He wants us to be and in return, we don’t have to sin. We don’t have to depend in hopeless things; we’re free. My instinct to be alone becomes less of an instinct and more of a burden. I’d much rather be around people. People, unlike money, remind me of Who provides peace. If they remind me of how hopeless I once was or if they remind me of how hopeful I’ve become; they remind me of Him. The church, a community of Jesus freaks, is described as a building being built by God, with Christ as the cornerstone. It makes sense now; a community so close together, so connected to each other, so loving to each other, appears as a stronger building than any man-made temple. It’s funny how if we simply trust in the humble little Cornerstone, we receive everything we could ever want.