For a while now, I have been really struggling in my heart to resolve two very different thoughts. Thoughts that almost seem like they are complete opposites of the spectrum and there is no way for them to collide. No way for them to exist together.
The message of guilt is very popular and used too much, in my opinion, in the Christian faith. It is taught over and over. Most the time I don’t think we even realize we are doing it. We have taken the faith of Christians in the U.S. and made it nothing. We compare our faith to people in countries where it is illegal to be a Christian and say that their faith is so much stronger than ours. Reading my Bible, I don’t see that to be true. Yes, I will agree that it takes a lot more courage to become a Christian in those countries. But are we really going to stand and say that the struggles between what is culturally popular in our country and what the Bible says is any less of a conflict? Does it really take any less faith for us to publicly live what we claim to believe and go against what our world says is right? Because someone isn’t trying to kill us, our faith is the tiniest faith you could find on this earth? I say that’s crap.
Jesus didn’t have secret meetings. He talked to thousands and thousands of people, out in the open. He performed miracles in the synagogues, on the streets, in wide open spaces, on the water, in people’s homes the list goes on. He and his disciples were not forced to live with the fear that if they dared utter his name, someone would kill them right there and then. Yes, the risk of life became greater the further into his ministry he went, but still he didn’t have to hide away and make sure the general public didn’t know where he was. However, he did live with his name being slandered. People who believed in him and were fully committed to living out his words, had to take risks that were just as dangerous as those who live in fear of their lives. Their livelihoods were in danger. Their education was in danger. Their standing in their community was in danger. The loss of friendships was in danger. Their names were dragged through the mud. And this sounds more like the country I live in.
My current struggle has been with the idea of giving everything up for God, being sold out to him and accepting, receiving and living in his blessing. I will agree that it is a lot easier to live in the U.S. and be a Christian and never have to majorly stand up for one’s faith. It is easy to just go with the flow of things and slide through life. Which is why we currently have an abundance of books and messages being preached and taught about ‘a wimpy’ Christian faith. There is a need for Christians in our country to take courage and stand up for what the Bible says. It MUST be done in LOVE or it is wrong! So, there are books out that are talking about a need for a radical change in the Christian faith in the U.S. I love them! They are great! They make very good points. However, have we swung too far? The message is very easily transferred into the idea that it is wrong to have stuff. To own a house is a luxury. To have one car, much-less two or more is a huge luxury. People all over the world live in shacks and don’t even have a car. Jesus and his disciples didn’t own things. They didn’t have a house or furniture or animals to travel on. We have now entered the guilt Christianity movement.
What about all the other people in the Bible who followed after Jesus? There weren’t just 12 of them. What about the crowds that believed in Jesus? What about the people who were healed by him and he told them to go home and tell no one? What about the people who wanted to follow him like the disciples did and he told them to go home and sin no more? Was he rejecting them? Did they not have faith strong enough, like the disciples? If that were the case, then that would contradict everything he stood for. That would completely invalidate my faith. Actually, Jesus very rarely told people to sell their homes, their lands, their belongings and follow after him. To my recollection, which could be a little off, there were only 13 people he asked to do that. His 12 disciples and the rich young ruler.
So, how do I resolved the idea of having stuff, having wealth, with giving up everything for Jesus?
My husband and I have been married for a little over a year and it has been a very blessed year. God has showered us with more than we need. We have a house, which is crazy and a long story for another time of how God brought that all about. But in the grand scheme of things, do we reeeeaaaaallly need a house? No. But we have one and it is very clearly God’s hand that led us to it. We have been able to almost completely furnish our house for very little money, through gifts and finding brand-spanking-new-still-in-the-box furniture at auctions and thrift shops. We don’t really need a buffet style table thing, or even two of those in our dining room, but we have them. We don’t need all the knick-nacks we have to decorate our house, but we have them. However, in every piece of furniture or decoration in my house, I am reminded of how God brought about each find or gift. Our company has been immensely blessed. We have been able to triple in size in six months time! We have a lot of luxury items and we don’t need them. I feel guilty. Are we not giving everything up for God? Is having all this stuff wrong? But what about the fact that these things are clearly God’s blessings? Is it wrong for me to think that his blessings come in the way of things, when people all over the world, including here, have less than me? What exactly does it mean to give up everything for God?
That last question is where I found myself a few days ago. I’m currently reading through a great book, I’m only 4 chapters in. :) The third chapter talks about a man, who the guilt Christianity movement would say is a weak Christian. He was wealthy. He didn’t give up everything and follow Jesus. The chapter explores this man and the fact that Jesus lifted him up in Scriptures. He was exalted. He was talked about as being righteous. He was important and a crucial part of Jesus fulfilling prophecies. But he was wealthy! He had stuff! He didn’t abandoned his home town. Isn’t that wrong? Shouldn’t he have sold all his belongings in following Jesus? Shouldn’t he have left home and gone far away?
I have been sitting in all of this, letting it swirl around in my brain. Trying to make sense of it all. Then it hit me. Giving up everything for God, doesn’t literally mean selling all my stuff and living in a shack. It means to not hold on to all MY things. That MY things become HIS things and if he wants to take them from me, I am OK with that. I can have stuff and things that really aren’t necessary and still follow Him. My car and my home are filled with blessings. I feel his love when looking at and enjoying the blessings he has given me. I hear him whispering to me that I am his beloved and he longs to lavish his love upon me. I am worthy of these blessings, these visible signs of his affection for me.
I am worthy of these blessings, these visible signs of his affection for me.
Stuff is not wrong. Letting the things I have control me and my life choices are wrong, but having things is not wrong.