There has always been a prevailing view of success as being defined by the concept of ownership. Ned Dougherty in his book “Fast Lane to Heaven” said that prior to his death experience his motto was “He who dies with the most toys, wins!” But that all changed after his skirmish with the common enemy called death.
There is something wrong with society. Accumulation has been the goal and the end all. People amass, collect, and hoard. Greed and a desire for even more security, power, and glory have turned men and women towards getting into an unending cycle of storing for themselves wealth to last their lifetimes, and beyond.
What drives a multi-millionaire towards wanting more money for himself, when he already has enough to live with for the rest of his life? Like the dog which saw what it thought was another dog with a steak in its mouth when he looked down on surface of the pond, people risk losing what they have in an effort to gain even more. Something in man just cannot get satisfied.
Being set free from this cage of greed and accumulation is key to enjoying a more meaningful richer life.
I once had what would be any worker’s dream: a stable job, a promising career, a house and lot, a car, a family, and a good standing in the community. Now I just rent a small condo unit and use public transportation. If you asked me what’s better, I would say, my life now is.
Before you start judging me to be crazy for trading something for so little, let me explain the logic behind my current viewpoint. When I lived in my own house and lot, my Saturdays were consumed with having to maintain my property – cutting the lawn’s grass that kept growing relentlessly, keeping the house from deteriorating, cleaning and maintaining the car, etc. I turned out to be a slave of the things I prized and worked hard for for so many years. Now I have my Saturday’s free mostly to spend with my family.
And I discovered a little trick – a trick of the mind. I have begun to view the world differently, and it all starts with a simple truth:
I believe that as a son or daughter of the Most High, we are co-owners of all things because our Father owns everything. Remember what the father said to the elder son in the parable of the prodigal son, “everything I have is yours”.
Ownership, at least from the world’s viewpoint, is an illusion. Saving tons of money to buy a piece of property where you build a big resort is an illusion. Instead, I would rather go by the famous adage
the best things in life are free
Let me ask you a question: what is the difference between being an owner of a big resort and one who just pays a small entrance fee to enjoy the facilities? Ironically, the common user turns out to be the person who enjoys it more. Being the big resort owner, he has to worry about maintenance, finances, laborers, etc. and he is too familiar with the place that he no longer finds it as fascinating as it used to at the start. In fact, I doubt the property owner even goes swimming in the pool anymore. But if I was just a once in while visitor of the facility, I could access almost everything without having to worry about anything, and even enjoy the facility more than the actual owner.
The owner may even be too afraid to mingle with the common folk in the resort out of fear of being attacked or kidnapped. I on the other hand being a practical nobody am free to roam around and enjoy mingling with people without fear.
In the huge city where I now live in I just bike to the nearby communal park with wide grassy space and trees all around to enjoy the greenery. I enjoy the beautifully maintained gardens of flowers and bushes arranged to my eye’s delight. And I think to myself, this is all mine and these people working to maintain this are all working for my Father, who owns all things.
I don’t have to bother mowing the grass like I used to, and compared with the size of the lawn of my old house, this park is enormous. And if I get tired of this current park, I can always go in the other direction to a different park to enjoy. All access is free. I am even free to talk or interact with anybody sitting by, something which would be scary to think of if I found a stranger lurking in my little lawn I used to maintain as my own.
Time on earth is short, so why should I waste it mowing my own lawn and tending to my own garden? I can enjoy one that’s a hundred times bigger at the communal park all for free. All I have to do is to reformat my mind into thinking I do not need to own my own little kingdom, because this entire world is already mine. Practically, if I can access it, it’s mine. With my current setup less (in terms of ownership by the world’s standard) is more (a greater gain for me).
While I was doing my graduate studies at a premier university outside my home country through the host country’s government scholarship, two of my best friends in the same department were also foreigners. One had his parents funding his studies, while the other was a working student. Unfair as it may seem, they were dishing out money, while I was being paid. To exacerbate the disparity, I was even receiving my salary in my home country because I was on study leave.
In retrospect, almost all my education was free. In high school and college, my father was a university faculty member, so all my tuition was free.
Even my work now, I perceive differently. I view it as an enjoyable “hobby” where I can use a clean office, a computer with online access, and a chance to exercise my abilities in the field I like – engineering design. The company actually pays me to work on something I enjoy doing. Because I view my work as fun and fulfilling, I am even more effective in my job as before when I used to think of it as a chore that I had to tolerate and endure as an unnecessary evil to get a salary. In general, the perks that go with a good job, such as all-expense-paid business trips abroad, a smartphone for one to use, occasional dining out, paid public commute, and almost a month’s worth of paid holidays each year are all free.
Take for example the field of software: so much software, tools, and content are actually free. In fact, the Linux OS and free office suites like Libre and open office are all license free. Information is free – news, weather forecasts, Youtube video, calls to home via internet, dictionaries, translators, trainings, encyclopedias, sermons, music, and many more.
How about malls and hotels? I can hang around at a hotel lobby and use their superbly clean toilet for free. I can roam around a mall and sit around for free. I can go on a city tour on bike for free. Just today, I went to church for free – rather than take a train to go to the usual church, my family went biking for an hour: so I basically got a gym’s exercise for free, roam around the city for free, and the train fare we saved we just used on eating out instead.
The new mindset of thinking we are co-owners of this vast earth and its bounty cures so many evils in man: the greed for money and wealth, covetousness, stealing, killing, lying and cheating for personal gain. These all become meaningless to a person who thinks he already owns all things.
All that I have been talking about so far are things of this earthly life. They are free like the air we breathe, the sunshine and rain we are blessed with, and the forests we can enjoy roaming in. But the best things in life are not really the things of this earth, but the things of the unseen realm – the topic of which the Bible, God’s word, touches upon: the things that truly matter and are eternal.
The best thing in life is the gift that the Bible talks about: the free gift of eternal life (knowing the Father) made available through the Son, together with all the perks that go with it like the promise of an eternal dwelling place, a future incorruptible body, inner peace and joy, and the fellowship we can enjoy in being with our heavenly family. All we need to do is reformat out minds into believing the truth. And how else can we know the truth but through reading God’s revealed word? In a free country like where you are most likely living in, there’s no stopping us from getting a copy of the word of God. If you need a copy, just go to any church or believer and they will be more than willing to hand you one FOR FREE.
And you might wonder why anyone one would give out anything for free – well it’s simple: The Master said, freely you have received, freely give. It’s the heart of the gospel, and free is the way to go.
Note: For starters in discovering the written Word, just start with Genesis, then Matthew, Exodus, John, Isaiah, Romans, and Peter.
Andy Philips | 2015-0318