In the fifth century, a man named Arenius determined to live a holy life. So, he abandoned the conforms of Egyptian society to follow an austere lifestyle in the desert.
Yet, whenever he visited the great city of Alexandria, he spent time wandering through its bazaars. When asked why, he explained that his heart rejoiced at the sight of all the things he didn’t need.
Those of us who live in a society flooded with goods and gadgets need to ponder the example of that desert dweller. A typical supermarket in the United States in 1976 stocked 9,000 articles; today it carries 30,000. How many of them are absolutely essential? How many superfluous? (Our Daily Bread, May 26, 1994)
All of us have struggled to be content. It seems what we have is never enough. We always want newer and better things: a new car, new clothes, a new house. We think these things will bring us happiness. We think these things will bring us fulfillment. We think these things will bring us peace. But in reality, if we think about it, they are only things.
There is something to be learned from Arenius. It might serve us well to go into the market places and rejoice at all the things we do not need. We need to somehow learn the difference between a “want” and “need.”
Jesus, our God, lived a simple life, and in the midst of a materialistic society, he calls us to at least try to do the same thing. True contentment will only be found in the love of family and friends. True contentment will be found in the ways we treat those around us. We are called to be a people who show kindness and love, even to people we don’t know or understand.
Let us pray to God and ask Him to help us learn to separate our needs from our wants. In doing so, contentment could be ours.
God bless you,
Rev. Chris Hill, senior pastor
Evangelical United Church of Christ