Sometimes stuff just gets in the way…
We talk a lot about the heroes of our faith and celebrate the example that they lived for us. Abraham, Moses, David, the Disciples, and many others are definitely all heroes in that they trusted God in all aspects of their lives. Abraham wasn’t worried about getting the best land, because he trusted God to take care of him where he was at. David wasn’t too worried about self-protection when he faced Goliath, because he had such supernatural faith in God to triumph over evil. Time and again we seem to see these men risk their wealth or their health, their families or their very lives, and it seems to be for no good reason other than they had an inner certainty that God would take care of them. And boy, when I read their stories, I do not feel like I even come close to having the same kind of faith that they are famous for possessing.
When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to minister among the Jewish people for the first time, he gave them these instructions: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. (Matthew 10:7-10)” Can you imagine being sent out on a long missionary journey with only the clothes on your back? No vehicle, no money, no hotel reservations, not even an extra pair of sneakers for when you wore through the soles of your first pair. Oh yeah, and along the way, make sure you perform all sorts of miracles. What kind of faith does it take to do something like this? I’m forced to conclude that these great heroes of our faith did not just have great faith in Jesus…they were also pretty much insane.
So if God spoke to you tonight and gave you the kind of message he gave Abraham when he told him to pack up and leave his family, or if he gave you the kind of message he gave Moses when he said to go and confront Pharaoh, how would you respond? Would you be able to follow through if he sent you out to serve the poor with nothing but the clothes on your back and he didn’t tell you where your next meal would come from? It sure is nice to think about how amazing these guys were, but if the same things were asked of us, we wouldn’t find it so cool. I’m not sure if most of us would have a harder time obeying God because we doubted his power and his ability to guide and direct us, or if we would simply ignore him because we are so comfortable with all our stuff and we don’t know how to live without it. Let’s just be honest: most of us wouldn’t even get to the point of wondering whether we should trust God and answer his call because we would be too offended at the thought of leaving behind all our stuff that we have worked so hard to collect. I’m guilty. Our lives are controlled by so much stuff… all my books are stuff, all my t-shirts are stuff, my Facebook is stuff, my extra snack food is stuff, this computer is stuff. If I had been one of Jesus’ disciples, he would have asked me to walk away from all this stuff to follow him.
I guess I won’t keep speaking for everyone else, but I am growing weary of being so controlled by my stuff. I am sad that sometimes I fail to be an obedient disciple of Jesus because to do so would interfere with my stuff. To be a disciple of Jesus could mean missing the Jayhawks game, or giving up my favorite jacket, or going to dinner late. Tonight some friends invited me to go with them to a vespers (evening prayer) service during the first half of dinner, but I declined because I was hungry. Hmm. Stuff.
God is good. He doesn’t want us to hurt or be in want. But he does want us to trust him in loving obedience. I’m not sure where he will lead, but his is the path I want to be on, and I hope you do too. Jesus called his disciples to make some pretty extreme sacrifices. Right now, I just want to learn to give up the little things that don’t matter much so that my faith in his sustaining goodness will grow. I’ll ask you guys: What do we really need? What can we give up? What stuff controls our lives so that we cannot follow God? Let me know!