What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Should it Stay or Should it Go: Stuff, Worship, and Cleaning Out the Clutter

This past week I was hanging out with a friend who is hanging out with Jesus in the Scriptures for the first time. We talked about how Jesus seemed to always invoke strong reactions. To meet Jesus was a violent fork in the road for many people. He was not just a passive, benevolent grandfather figure. Jesus demanded a response.

So what does that mean for us? How are we to respond to Christ?

Specifically, we started talking about the comfortable life of white, middle-class folks. Should we need to be spending our time mowing lawns, surfing several hundred t.v. stations, and the like? Do we have to give all that stuff up in order to really be a part of this whole Jesus business?

As we talked, it seemed that there are a couple of equal and opposite truths that we're called to live in.

First, there can be a false dichotomy between sacred and secular. We are invited to do everything to the glory of God: eat, drink, mow the lawn, raise kids, and yes, even watch t.v. All of this is offering-material for those of us who are following Christ. It is possible for him to be delighted in all of it.

On the other hand, sometimes our lives are cluttered with crap. And some of that crap needs to go.

Some of us need to cut out things because it's killing us, choking us out with worry and anxiety and fear and upkeep. Jesus talks about such people with the parable of the soils: the cares of this life are multiplied the more stuff we have. It literally could destroy our souls. For many of you in this boat, it is already killing your joy.

Still others of us need to get rid of stuff, good stuff, even, simply because Jesus has specifically called us to do so. "One thing you lack," Jesus once said to a rich young man, "Go sell all you have and follow me." This is a specific command he offers to this one man (i.e. he doesn't tell everyone to do this) so we must be careful to not recklessly universalize this. But some of us are called to do this very thing.

And so we must all be willing to do so. And in that is the worship. If there's anything that we wouldn't give up in order to follow Christ, it's become our God. And it must go.

This tension between gathering up the things of our lives as our worship and clearing out the things in our lives in order to worship is a tough one. I generally would prefer attempting door number one first.

But the work of the Spirit is to lead us into the worship of Jesus. He is the end of all our "stuff." All our resting, playing, living, working, breathing, parenting, soccer-coaching, errand-running, hope-setting must be done ultimately with him in view. That is the true work of following Christ, even and especially in suburbia-ville.

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