This week I stumbled across an online photo collection taken at a recent body piercing expo. And it was nasty!
I’ve never seen so many people together piercing all regions of their head with all types of metal. I’m a bit bummed I didn’t note the url but I’m not about to attempt a Google search for “body piercing expo photos.” So let me describe what I saw.
One photo captured a man who pierced his cheeks with two full-sized, glistening swords. Dribbles of blood were still running down his cheeks when the photo was taken and I guess the swords were now the jewelry. Literally it looked like a crisscrossed sword display transplanted from a wall into a man’s face, each sword entering through one of the man’s cheeks and then out his mouth. Another man appeared to have a game of pick-up-sticks embedded into his facial tissue. Eight-inch bamboo sticks were running through his nose, lips or cheeks in all directions. This collection was the most bizarre assortment of pictures I’ve seen on the web (which says a bit). Behold the power of futility under peer pressure.
I fill your minds with disgusting piercing stories for a purpose. Because when I think of jabbing a bamboo stick through my nose two things come to mind. First, how hard do you need to push to get it through? Yowza. And secondly, I think about money.
As you’ve noticed, we have entered a period of economic ‘uncertainty.’ But as far as I can tell, the state of the economy is fairly certain: dismal. Clearly recession has hit and I’m thankful for the economic smart guys putting Humpty together again. I know enough about economics to know the The Dow Jones index should not be plummeting like it is. But more importantly, this means the average American is financially struggling to some degree or other. Struggling to pay for gas, struggling to refinance, struggling to pay for groceries, even struggling to find work. Like no other time in my short life experiences, money is on the minds of us all.
And in times like this it’s good to be reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6:6-10:
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
This is one of the clearest, most tangible, and universally relevant passages in Scripture on contentment. From the day Paul wrote these words until now—some 711,000 days later—humans have been daily pursuing food and clothing. And with these, Scripture says, we can learn to be content and remain content.
The promise of contentment, and how to find it, is simple and clear. And so is the opposite. Contrary to joyful contentment is a love of money, a betrothal to wealth. And money makes for an unfaithful spouse. Because when money (in the form of equity, stocks, retirement) begins disappearing, the love of money pierces hard. Like jabbing a bamboo stick through our nostrils.
See, Paul’s contrast in this passage is clear. I either pierce the love of money or I pierce myself. Which means the pain we feel while watching the value of our assets bomb may not simply be the pain inflicted by big banks and Wall Street. It may be self-inflicted.
Our only hope in times like these will be contentment—hearts satisfied with the riches of grace, hearts thankful for what Christ has accomplished on the cross, and hearts hopeful for the greater promises to be fulfilled in the future when our food will be in the form of a feast and our clothes will include a crown. Until then, we have food, and clothes, and the One who was pierced for our transgressions. We have enough to be daily joyful.
pic by aaron dieppa