Dissatisfaction Guaranteed

I read an excellent book some time ago entitled, “Affluenza – The All-Consuming Epidemic.”   It was an excellent presentation of the ills that beset so many today.

The book describes Affluenza as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”

On page 109, with the chapter heading of “Dissatisfaction Guaranteed,” it quoted psychologist David Meyer who wrote: “More than ever, we have big houses and broken homes, high incomes and low morale, secured rights and diminished civility.   We excel at making a living but often fail at making a life.   We celebrate our prosperity but yearn for purpose.   We cherish our freedoms but long for connection.   In an age of plenty, we feel spiritual hunger.”

Psychologist Jeremy Seabrook was also quoted on the same page where he opined: “The only chance of satisfaction we can imagine is getting more of what we have now.   But what we have now makes everybody dissatisfied.   So what will more of it do – make us more satisfied, or more dissatisfied?”

Those quotes certainly apply to so many in society today, and the book gives the symptoms, the causes and the necessary treatment in its 236 pages plus chapter end notes, bibliography and sources.

It got me to thinking how much the pursuit of “stuff” and material things may have rubbed off on some church members?   Do we have to discard our laptop computer that works perfectly well in order to get the latest version which we actually do not need?   Do we have to change our car every year so that it is up-to-date with the latest add-ons and options which we likewise do not need and which will be quite expensive to acquire?   Do we constantly buy clothes and shoes when our wardrobe may already be full to overflowing?   Do we have to have the latest mobile (cell) phone which may be very little different to the phone we have had for the last six months and which works perfectly well, and do we have to have the very latest fashions, clothes and gadgetry that the marketing gurus thrust before our eyes with a compelling sales pitch that such stuff are a must have or because “you’re worth it?”

Even Church of God people are not immune to the accumulation of “stuff” as well as maxed-up credit cards and bank overdrafts to facilitate this emphasis and “necessity” to indulge as the world does.   After all, we are subject, in the main, to all of the advertising that bombards society on a daily basis, and from every quarter, but we should have much more resistance than others because of the precious knowledge that God has so marvellously revealed to us.

On page 111 of this book is a quote from Donella Meadows who wrote “Beyond the Limits,” as follows:  “People don’t need enormous cars, they need respect.   They don’t need closets full of clothes, they need to feel attractive and they need excitement and variety and beauty.   People don’t need electronic equipment; they need something worthwhile to do with their lives.   People need identity, community, challenge, acknowledgement, love and joy.   To try to fill these needs with material things is to set up an unquenchable appetite for false solutions to real and never-satisfied problems. The resulting psychological emptiness is one of the major forces behind the desire for material growth.”

I’m not talking, of course, about necessities, those things that we truly need.  We need clothes and shoes, and in this day and age, most, at least in the Western world, need mobile phones, cars, electronic equipment and computers.  I’m emphasising that even members of God’s Church can, if they’re not on their guard, be distracted from their true goal in life if the here and now, and all of its excesses and glitzy attractions, take a grip of how we behave and function.   It is a very easy trap to fall into and can become a way of life contrary to that which we have been called into.

On page 118 of the book, “Affluenza – The All-Consuming Epidemic,” we read “today by virtue of a media-happy free market, it may now be possible for a person to travel from one week to the next without thinking an original thought unshaped by manipulative messages!   Much of the territory between our ears has now been commercially ‘colonised’.   The question is, if we get evicted from our own minds, who are we?”

Of course, church members are too wise to be caught out in the acquisition of stuff, aren’t they?   Are they?   One television advertisement I saw sold the benefits of being able to use their facility for things we want and for those things we may not need as well.   No wonder so very many people seem to be up to their eyes in debt!   But it is not just the debt issue but having the wrong emphasis that is even more worrying.

Scripture tells us not to love the world and all of its attractions which certainly includes unnecessary purchases and debt.   In 1 John 2:15-17, we read the following: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

If we follow the way of this dying world by greatly accumulating “stuff” that is not necessary, and spend ourselves into unnecessary debt, we may well be falling for yet another Satanic trap.  Rather than being content with our lot, we can easily succumb to the way of this world which continues down the secular path towards destruction.   Developing holy righteous character is what we should be about, not accumulating that which will disappear.

Right at the end of the book, they conclude with these thoughts.   “The bottom line is this.   When your time comes and your whole life flashes before you, will it hold your interest?   How much of the story will be about moments of clarity and grace, kindness and caring?   Will the main character – you – appear as large and noble as life itself, or as tiny and absurd as a cartoon figure, darting frantically among mountains of stuff?   It’s up to you, and indeed, it’s up to all of us.”

As we approach the December festive season, there will be huge amounts of money spent on “stuff” with many maxing up their credit card(s) for materialistic goods that may have temporary pleasure but with long-lasting consequences of unnecessary debt and all that that can bring.

We can never have “Godly Overload,” but it is a direction that would be much more profitable to pursue than all of the material pursuits of this world!

It’s about priorities, and let none of us be found wanting in this respect!

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