Thursday, July 16, 2009

the two S's

this entry was originally on my Xanga blog from 2006. nobody, including me, goes there anymore, and as i needed to link to it, i'm reposting it here.

it's funny how perspective changes things. four or five years ago, i'd have thought that it was a sin issue causing all this automobile/financial pain. that for this much to go wrong must be a sign that something isn't right in my life. now, don't get me wrong...there's always something not right in my life. but i don't believe that's what this is about. i think it's about giving up...about letting go...about realizing that to follow Jesus, really follow Him, means that i'll live with less, hold on to less, desire less. at the same time, i'll suffer more, need more, and rely more on the One who had no place to lay His head.

i believe two S words have held me captive in my life, and probably much of the western church. stuff and security. i am not mobile with stuff. i cannot move instantly anywhere when encumbered with stuff. and there is a never-ending supply of it. as i've gone through the decision to sell all of my video game systems it's been easy to do with all the old, antique systems. but the xbox has been a difficult one to say goodbye to. why? because there are so many cool games that are always coming out. great chances to hop online with friends and have a pseudo-communal time. i love that...i enjoy it very much. but hours go by and weeks go by and months and years go by and there's always a new game or a new system. there's furniture and cars and definitely clothes (i can't even remember the last time i bought new clothes)...a never-ending stream of stuff to have. most of it's totally benign, too...innocuous. and each thing is another difficult thing to shed when God says "move...I've laid out what I desire from you already in Scripture. do not wait for some special dispensational "calling". THIS is what I require of you..DO justice, LOVE mercy, and WALK humbly with me." or Isaiah 58...or Matthew 25, or any one of the 3000 places in His word to us where He says to move on behalf of those that lack.

the other word is security. this is a feeling gained by stuff. from the the most a million places in's being insulated from need because need is covered by all these things. is there a difference between our fulfilling our needs and God supplying them? maybe not, at the bottom level. God is good and gives us work and health, and allows our needs to be met. but are we losing faith when we build up stockpiles of things to counter need? is it wrong to be secure? is it different than being wise with what we're given? i think so.

Jesus told the rich man, "sell all you have and give it to the poor...then you will be saved." but then who would take care of the rich man? well, i believe God answers that all through Scripture. He will provide as need arises. i cannot create a place so secure that it cannot be stripped away (see Job) in no time. i can create a place that is secure enough in my mind that i don't need anymore. security has stripped me of need, and now i am the rich man. and i tell you truly, as sad as that rich man was at the thought of giving up everything, so am i. it is a hard layer to peel away. in fact, i believe that the rich man would have struggled just as much if Jesus said give 1/2 of it away because he would have had to choose which among his possessions he would give up. so i now have to ask myself every day, and sometime even more frequently.

what is it that i would not give up in order to live in a way that lets me live like Isaiah 58 describes. what earthly dreams, hopes, or desires are more important to me than life in the Church as God commands. what safety will i need? what value must i gain? what limits will i impose? to be honest, i don't beileve that i can hold to anything and follow Jesus. it is a journey, to be sure...layers of resistance and self peeled away. but Jesus stated in Matthew that to follow Him meant being willing to leave everything behind. does it mean walking out of my house and heading for zambia? or mexico? or chicago's englewood neighborhood? leaving my family? selling my car? giving up everything? well, let me ask me (and you) this? what will i not give up? what is there to gain in this world that will not be far exceeded in value in the next? is sacrifice, and i mean to the point of pain, here worth it? can i live without a nice home with a view and a wife and kids and dogs, insulated away from the overwhelmingly obvious needs in this world? will i trade an eternal reward by my father for something to which i cannot hold...which may make it through this life with me or be gone tomorrow, but will certainly not join me at the Judgement Seat. am i willing to live counter-culturally?

Jesus' ministerial role was one of honor and glory as the other men in His profession saw it. they lived above most in that time and carried on with only a token compassion for the suffering. Jesus gave up standing and stature among the world, and lived with poor, common, or less than common folk. He spent His time with sinners, the sick, the downtrodden, and as He himself said, had no home to go to. He did not only give up everything when He went to the cross. He gave it up long before then. there was no security in His existence. and there definitely wasn't any stuff. if He is the model i am to become...the image...the benchmark...then i have a long way to go.

as if i didn't already know that...