A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a hilarious meme on social media:
This just proves that one letter can change the meaning of a whole sentence. I’m pretty sure the sign maker was not attempting to make a philosophical statement!
The line that was inserted into the meme makes the whole thing even better– “I pay, therefore I am” is (in case you didn’t know this already) a riff off of the philosopher Rene Decartes’ famous proclamation: “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes knew he existed, because he had the ability to think.
This meme is great. It pokes fun at a hilarious typo (“You had one job!”), and is super nerdy, all at the same time.
On a deeper level, though, it becomes a though-provoking commentary on our spending habits and what defines us.
How often have we (either purposely or unconsciously) had our identities wrapped up in the material things we pay for and own?
How often have we assumed things about others’ identities based on their house, or car, or clothes?
How often have we tried to change our identities by buying things that we think will increase our status in society?
We’ve all done it. Our consumer society encourages us to do it. We can fall into a “I pay, therefore I am” mentality all too easily.
But followers of Jesus, hear the good news. What we buy does not define us.
“But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian [the law], for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27-29)
Our identity is not in what we pay for and own. Our identity is in Christ Jesus. We are God’s own children, heirs to God’s promise. We are not enslaved to keeping up with the Joneses. We do not have to base our assumptions about other people on the things they own. In fact, we are all equal in God’s eyes. We cloth ourselves with Christ, not status symbol-making clothes or material possessions.
You are God’s child, and nothing you can buy can change that. This is your identity. This is who you are. God’s beloved child, saved by Jesus, heir to God’s promise.
How is God calling you to remember your identity in Jesus and stop defining yourself and others by material goods?