Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
This is a statement of (apparent) fact that the material possessions we might accumulate in our lives are not of any use or service when we die. It leaves open the question about where we might go when we die. It works equally well whether you believe that your body just stays in the ground, or that your spirit separates from your body and lives elsewhere, or that your body is resurrected at some point in the future. AA members are familiar with the quote that “the only thing we take from this world when we leave it is what we gave away” which gives us a hint about what to do with the insight that we can’t take it with us. Boston based marketing manager Aarti Khurana claims to have coined the phrase “while you are alive collect moments not things, earn respect, not money and enjoy love, not luxuries.”
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
This teaching of Christ is echoed in 1 Timothy 6:7, “for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it,” and by other verses. The idea that our access to wealth does not survive us is not just a statement of fact but a preamble to an ethic. Since this is the case, we are invited to be generous not only with our material wealth but with every ounce of our being. Pastors seeking sixty-five million dollars to buy a jet plane when the true [lack of] value of earthly treasures is so clearly identified ought to confuse the outside observer of Christianity. And while this is an extreme example that most of us can easily distance ourselves from, the actual challenge likely hits home on a daily basis. I recall a children's story in which the preacher pulled out a charge card that had a hologram of a dove on it and said he used that as a reminder of the Holy Spirit being involved in every penny he spent, or at least every time he used his charge card. Thirty odd years and counting that I think of this as I pull my own card out!