And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17

“…the world is passing away with all its desires…” is a gripping part of this verse. If there’s anything we’ve witnessed this year, it’s things changing dramatically in a hurry. We went from a very open society, able to move about as we wanted, to one where our freedom to move about is limited to our homes, along with perhaps a feeling of being watched for compliance. Life can dramatically change in mere moments.

If we listen to all the differing voices around us, from some friends and family to commercials, spending less in this season is completely countercultural. Our society seems to have taken this season and averted our eyes from what’s everlasting (Jesus) and focused it on things temporal (what this world offers us). And we’ve done so way earlier in the year than I remember. This really isn’t a new concept at all. It’s been around since the fruit hit the ground after the first shared bite in the Garden of Eden.

When Jesus walked the earth, there were those who spent their time teaching and watching those around them what it meant to be godly in light of the law. When asked, Jesus brought the bulk of the law down to two things: loving God with our entire being and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Our relationships with God and neighbor trump everything.

In this season, as we’re bombarded with things to purchase, what if we turned a deaf ear to it and focused on Jesus’ call to love God and neighbor? As Advent continues, spending (more) time with God can fill us with the joy freely available to us. And perhaps the time spent in stores and online looking for that ‘perfect’ gift could be better spent with the person to whom the gift would be given. If there’s one good thing Covid-19 has brought through technology, it’s given us the ability to share life with those around us, local or not.

If this is the choice you make this season, investing time in closer relationship with God and neighbor, perhaps you’ll find lasting reward from a gift that truly keeps on giving.

By Rich Obrecht

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