Friday, January 9, 2009

Keeping Up With The Joneses

There is a new radio advertisement that I have heard a couple of times over the last week or two based on the old notion of "keeping up with the Joneses." As a life long Jones, I have to say that I used to always like this phrase. I liked the idea that everyone was supposedly trying to keep up with us; everyone supposedly wanted what we have; everyone supposedly wanted to be like us. At times, Tracy and I have looked at friends and neighbors and laughed about it, saying it should be something more like "keeping up with the _________."

When I have heard the advertisement over the last couple of days, though, it has struck a different chord with me. To be honest, I can't even recall what it is advertising. It is presented as one neighbor saying to another something like "Wow, neighbor, look at that shiny new truck." And the other, the Jones, responding "You should see the shiny new boat that goes with it." Then it talks about keeping up with the Joneses.

In thinking about it more, I don't like the material aspect of the phrase. The point seems to be about the accumulation of prizes, of stuff. It is like the bumper sticker saying "He who dies with the most toys wins." I've said here before, and I will undoubtedly say again, I admit that I like my stuff and that I become too focused on that. But, over the past few years, I think I've gotten better about it. I no longer see that stuff as the goal. My life is not driven by the pursuit of things. While I enjoy things, they are not the source of Joy.

It is easy to say this given the situation that I am in, but this morning as I think about all of this, I am drawn to the words of Paul (who, given everything he had been through was in a much better place to say this):

"I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ because he gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13 (emphasis added)

That's what I want. I want to be in that place and to live a life that shows it to others. I want people to look at me and my family and want to keep up with the Joneses because of the way we love each other and others. I want people to want to keep up with the Joneses because of our eternal joy that comes from an understanding that life is not about all the stuff. I want people to want to keep up with the Joneses because of the strength we have in Jesus.

If we can get it to that, I will go back to liking the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." Until then, I'm going to try to keep up with the people that I think are good models of those things and I kindly suggest that you do the same.

Have a great weekend everyone!

1 comment:

Heidi said...

How funny! I've never had that problem, so it never struck me that a Jones would identify with it, but of course you would!

I agree with everything here. God gave us material things to use, to enjoy even, but not to put any importance in. We need to hold them loosely, and be willing to give them up at a moment's notice. Easier said than done, for sure.

But looking at what we really want - the kind of people we want to be and the traits of God we want to have - helps in taking the focus off material things.

I've heard that commercial a lot, but now, I will think about what you've said here when I hear it again! Thanks for that reminder!