Why Are We So Obsessed With “New”?

Written By Joel Tan

Joel is a youth worker currently working and living in Melbourne, Australia. He is actively involved in both ministry work at his church, Lygon Street Christian Chapel, and the Overseas Christian Fellowship Carlton in Melbourne that is targeted at international students. His passion for youth ministry stems from the experiences and life lessons he gained growing up attending Shalom Bible-Presbyterian Church in Singapore. He continues to actively keep up with and contribute to the youth work there whenever he’s home.

A fresh, new 2015.

This year will undoubtedly be filled with new experiences, new beginnings, and new challenges. Regardless of what we’ve gone through, how we’ve performed, or even where we are, there’s always a new thing to look forward to—be it a new job, a new relationship, or even a new gadget. This culture of chasing after the newest thing has fuelled the consumer market with the impetus to produce more and more material things. Even as I type these words on my parent’s tablet-laptop hybrid device, I am seriously considering getting a similar gadget for myself.

Why do we pursue the new?
It’s natural to then ask: why does “new” hold such an appeal on us? Perhaps, it is because “new” often equates to faster, bigger, more efficient, lighter, and better functionality. Hence, there are often legitimate reasons to seek after the latest gizmo for new technology helps us live our lives more easily and better manage our time.

However, let’s also take a look at ourselves and whether we really do need that new item. We often use reasons such as convenience and productivity as cover ups to mask our true desires, which include achieving social acceptance and being part of the “in” crowd. Or maybe it’s just about not being left out holding something outdated and slow. The question we need to ask ourselves really is whether the pursuit of “new” is the means to an end: a self-esteem booster, a social symbol, or a cosmetic accessory meant to add or qualify our self-worth.

I’m not suggesting that we should never have anything new but there is a big difference between “want” and “need” and we often mix the two up. Maybe it’s time to examine our lives and list out what we really need (like food, water, love of family) versus what we want.

It’s about contentment
Perhaps, the real issue that plagues our generation is that we don’t understand what “contentment” means. Websters dictionary defines contentment as “being in the state of happiness or satisfaction.” Living in affluent societies could be one reason why we are more prone to being covetous than contented, but really, the desire for something new is really not that new. Are we made to always want more?

As it is written in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters . . . You cannot serve both God and money.” Then in 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” The Bible points to the daily tussle we face between pursuing worldly desires and following God and makes it clear that we can only choose one. We have this almost unquenchable thirst for material possessions that can only be truly satisfied when we know and trust Jesus Christ as the Provider and Sustainer of our lives. So let us seek after the only one who will not disappoint, the one who will quench our thirst with everlasting water and feed us with our daily bread. As 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” At the end of the day, we will benefit from being content!

Maybe it’s time that we, as young people, take stock of what we have, be content with our daily bread and make full use of our present circumstances rather than crave for the next best thing.

The new thing worth pursuing
Having said all that, “new” isn’t necessarily bad. After all, Jesus has given us new life and a new perspective on things. He has taken care of our old sinful lives and washed us clean, rebooted our software, and given us a new direction in life—one that seeks Him rather than the things of this world. So yes, something new doesn’t always mean that it’s bad, it can be great like this reminder of our salvation.

So, let’s keep seeking after Him. Let us come to the one who can fill us till we want no more. Let us come to the well of living water, trusting in Jesus’ promise in John 4:14, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

May you and I want more and more of this water that only Jesus can give.

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