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Life's Indifference Curve Created 9 April 2014

If you are familiar with economics you'll understand the term 'indifference curve'. Stated plainly, it is the uncertainty vested in a buying decision when more than one option of equal value exists[2]. For instance, if you had $10, should you buy two fruit juices and one chicken sandwich, or should you buy 1 fruit juice and two chicken sandwiches? The answer, in this example, lies in whether or not you are more hungry than thirsty, or more thirsty than hungry.

So, you'll spend more money on what is most important to you. You will address your uncertainty (indifference) through whatever is most important to you. Spending more money on sandwiches when, really, you are thirsty means you're either being silly or you don't know anything about quenching your thirst. It is either one of the two.

Now, consider that we live in both a physical world (the 'temporal realm') as well as a spiritual world (the 'eternal realm'). These two realms are good for different things.

In the temporal realm, for instance, you can marry, procreate, etc. In the eternal realm you neither marry nor procreate. But, in the eternal realm, what you are is being intimately connected to either light or darkness; obscurity or salvation.

Nevertheless, not only does the one lead to the other (temporal leads to eternal), there are also several similarities between the realm. One such similarity relates to what I might call 'currency' - value within or beyond yourself. In the eternal realm, like the temporal realm, you may accumulate currency for later use.

Money Bags image

And it is herein that lies Life's Indifference Curve:

a) pursuit of temporal currency pays the bills, ensures some form of personal security and buys future decisions like schooling, holidaying and wealth-creating investments. Generally good things.

b) pursuit of eternal currency buys something else. We're not sure what it is but it seems to have been important enough for Jesus to nevertheless advise concerning it:

Provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.[1]

What we see from the preceding passage in Luke 12[1] is something we as Christians find very hard to do: Jesus is saying, 'on the indifference curve of life - where you will have a choice to satisfy either your eternal need or your temporal need - choose to satisfy your eternal need (choose eternal currency): Choose money bags in heaven'.

Perhaps it is so difficult to do this today because life is so uncertain and subsistence is so much dependent on having earthly currency (dollars and cents)? Still, perhaps these are not the reasons why many do not follow Jesus' advice and pursue temporal currency instead?

We cannot get away from the fact that groceries need to be bought, the mortgage or rent needs to be paid, ... transportation, medication, schooling and education, insurance, memberships, registration, administration, ... all of these need money. Alas, we need to live practically as well. We cannot possibly be expected to breath spiritual air, drink spiritual water and sleep spiritual warm only. No. We need to be practical as well.

But here's the issue: For the spiritually reborn believer, their spiritual existence trumps their physical existence. Their spiritual being is in many ways more important than their physical being. And it is on this basis that true believers throughout the ages have remained steadfast in their devotion to Christ despite being severely persecuted[3]. The Bible even says that we no longer look at people to understand who they are from a physical perspective but from a spiritual perspective: So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun![4].

So, for the spiritually renewed person their spiritual person will be more important, and therefore, get precedence over their physical or natural person. Their spiritual gain will be more important than their physical/natural gain. Their overcoming spiritual obstacles and challenges will be more important than their overcoming natural obstacles or challenges. Their spiritual gifts will be more important than their natural gifts (talents). And, their time spent on spiritual interests will be more important than their time spent on natural or physical interests. And the reason they will do this?: Because the Kingdom they serve is primarily spiritual.

Where this is not the case, I fear, one has to question such a person's true desire to deliver spiritual fruit that is in keeping with the Father's expectation. To be honest, I think we underestimate the severity of God's judgement of those who had the opportunity to produce fruit, but did not do so - the ones who were granted to be 'connected to the Vine' but chose not to deliver the Vine's fruit notwithstanding[5]. Yes, I fear most of us are taking undue comfort in the "Once-saved-always-saved myth"[6].

Back to the title of this article: On the 'life indifference curve', where most of us see 'must-haves', like new clothes, new cars, upgraded watches, new version iPads, highlighting the hair, doing the nails, quad bikes, cameras, computers, ... I wonder if God, perhaps, does not see us having traded eternal 'must-haves' for temporal 'nice-to-haves'?

In my case at least, I think that is true. I have come to convince myself of the 'need' for things where, really, they are merely wants. Even more poignant, they are 'leakages' in my eternal currency account. These do not speak about dollar and cents but, predominantly, about time. Where is your mind invested, and what is the eternal fruit that comes from it? That is the question. The fact of the matter is this: Temporal time is running out and the opportunity to turn to Christ while bearing fruit, at some point, will pass.

Image of clock Considering that eternal existence, supposedly, is a much more sustainable existence than that of the temporal realm, allowing leakage of your eternal money bag for the sake of your temporal money bag - on a purely intellectual level - is not a very intelligent thing to do. It is not very smart. No, not only is it rather unwise, it is really dumb! There should be no doubt that, on life's indifference curve, where spiritual currency supposedly is more important to you, you are spending more time on temporal currency, you are being silly indeed!

That is unless, of course, you're not actually overly convinced of spiritual currency - the eternal realm. Where that is the case, choosing that which is temporal above that which is eternal actually makes good sense. But choosing more temporal value when you really desire eternal value is simply being silly!

I know what I am most of the time: I am being silly. I often choose temporal value over eternal value, yet I proclaim the opposite. That is being silly.

As for you, save for those who are actually pursuing mostly eternal objectives, are you being silly too or are you just unconvinced?

Consider this:

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.(Luke 12:16-21)

Footnotes

[1] 22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things[c] shall be added to you.

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:22-34) [back]

[2] Indifference curve is a curve on a graph (the axes of which represent quantities of two commodities) linking those combinations of quantities which the consumer regards as of equal value. (Wikipedia) [back]

[3] Follow these links: Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire || Persecution of Christians [back]

[4] So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:16-17, NLT) [back]

[5] 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. (John 15:5-6, NLT) [back]

[6] 4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— 6 and who then turn away from God. (their own decision) It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6, NLT) [back]

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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptual. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

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