Sunday, July 25, 2010
Today in church my husband was following along and taking notes until I tapped him on the arm and gave him the look that means, ‘Put your arm around me because the children are all downstairs and you can think about God and snuggle me at the same time. I guarantee he approves.’ Since his writing hand was wrapped around my shoulder when it was time to fill in the blank on point #2 he passed me paper and pen and gave me the look that says, ‘Fill in the blanks on my worksheet, because I was dutifully taking notes until my wife gave me the look.’ Point #2 read: Jesus offers _______ and __________. I filled it in with ‘money’ and ‘stuff I really want’. It was supposed to read, ‘Jesus offers freedom and restoration’, but that was not the answer I was hoping for.
This year my husband and I read The Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Sterns and Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. The two texts served as a venerable one-two punch of biblical insight, leaving me a little dizzy with prolonged ringing in the ears. Both authors, supported by lots of evidence from the Old and New Testament spoke boldly about the bondage of our love of things and the beautiful opportunities that await the brave few who shed the insulation of material accumulation in pursuit of higher things, namely service to Christ’s beloved poor. I cried and cried as I read, knowing that it would be difficult to walk away from the very voice of God brought near by these two witnesses. So we prayed and made a few changes.
But instead of feeling content with less, I find myself consumed with consumption. Like Peanut on Spaghetti night, I want more: more of everything pretty and shiny; more of things that smell new; more of everything that makes me sick. And my husband confessed the same just yesterday. We wander around thinking of all the ways we want to spend the money we don’t have. None of this is honoring to God, but it is honest and I also think it is interesting. I hope it goes away, but it just might not. I live in a world that tells me I deserve to have everything I desire. It is my capitalist birthright. That siren sings loudly and right under the window. But the beauty of her voice belies her melody. More of this world won’t satisfy, as artists and thinkers, both ancient and modern, religious and secular have tried to warn. So I am left to choose and re-choose with each breath and each stroll through Wal-Mart whom I will serve. I still hope to put some distance between my vain heart and the image of myself sold to me on the newsstand, but I think it is fair to assume and ready myself for the uneasy reality that choosing to be a stranger in this world will indeed make me strange and rub raw the points of contact between me and the temporal world in which I am ever grateful to live.
And, even though I am a vain and spoiled child, I can still see that what Jesus offers is what I really need; and not only what I need, but also what brings life and the freedom and restoration the pastor was preaching about this morning.
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and espies the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24