Yesterday, in a flurry of activity, our family relieved our home of four boxes of books and videos, some bags of donations and several other bags of things to sell.
And still my home groans under the weight of “stuff.”
As our family continues to read and study the Book of Acts, one thing is obvious. Nothing has the power to transform lives and hearts like the Word of God. I have read so many books and commentaries over the years about the Bible. They were good and insightful, but nothing has ever produced in me or our family the changes that we experience when we read and study the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter for ourselves.
Our lives, though radical and challenging to some, do not even come close to resembling the lives of the early Christians.
And so, borne out of a desire to simply obey the Scriptures and imitate Jesus and His disciples, we are unfettering ourselves.
What does that mean? What does it look like?
In Acts 5:41, we see that the Apostles are freed from prison after being beaten and commanded not to talk or teach any more about Jesus.
Their reaction: “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
You see, I am not like this. I rejoice when my house is clean.
I am Martha.
I do not want to be. Not any longer. And I will do everything in my power to break the ties that bind me to things that drown me and my ability to be fruitful for the Lord.
Listen to the interaction between Martha and Jesus in Luke 10 when Martha is distracted and doesn’t have time to be with the Lord: The Lord answered her,“Martha, Martha, you areanxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
I am so like Martha. I am anxious and troubled about many things. And these things rob me of my joy. They rob me of my time. They rob me of energy to go from house to house and proclaim that the Christ is Jesus.
You see, I have fields to mow, houses to look after, a business, animals, stuff overflowing in closets and on shelves, things that need washing, dusting, repairing……
I believe, though I am ashamed to admit it, that I can reach more people in today’s society if I am “one of them.” I can relate better and gain more respect in the eyes of the world if I look the right way, dress the right way, say the right thing, the right way, with the right tone and in the right time.”
But what about the disciples?
They were poor in possessions, yet they were rich in Christ. They were uneducated men, but rich in wisdom. They boldly pointed out the sin in others and called them to repent. Wherever they went. Whenever they went. They didn’t try to “win people over” with wise words or eloquent speech, nice homes, fancy degrees.
And what about what Jesus says over and over in the Scriptures in various ways,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or
‘What shall we wear?’ Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.
- How many dresses do I need for church?
- How many articles of clothing do I need to live?
- How many books do I need?
- How many dishes, pots and pans are required for cooking and eating?
- How many toys do my children need?
You see, though I live in a home much smaller than most, I have waaaaaaaay more than I need or can even possibly use. I am drowning in my possessions and I have become a slave to them.
Are there poor people around me who might benefit from these things?
But I honestly don’t know.
Would Jesus define someone as poor that has cable t.v. and a cell phone? Even the most poor around us seem to have these things and much, much more in abundance. I have delivered meals to people who live in mobile homes and trailers that are overflowing with things to the point of littering the yard.
But it is so obvious that there are many people around me who are utterly poor in Spirit. Every where I look I see sick and hurting souls who need my time and attention and love. Maybe this is what I should give them instead of more “stuff.”
Maybe I am a rich American not because I deserve it, but because God wants me to use my wealth to give to those that are truly poor and without basic necessities like clean water or food or shelter.
How has my mind become so warped to think that I need a vacation, a vacation home, savings for a rainy day or a retirement cruise, when brothers and sisters around the globe are homeless or starving?
I have believed a lie fed to me by the Father of lies. I have believed his words over the Words of Christ.
- I have believed that these things are owed to me.
- I have believed that these things give me security.
In Acts 2 we can so clearly see how the believer’s lived. How can anyone with a heart for God argue with these words of Scripture?
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day,attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Today I repent.
Lord-willing I will keep changing
and believing that Jesus will supply my needs.
I need only sit at His feet and learn from Him.
Yay! This is my first post regarding what Andrea has blogged about and about what I am taking from the scriptures, more importantly, the book of Acts. Blake and I have been challenged in what we should do in regards to what the idea of what a “Christian or Disciple” looks like, acts like, says, and responds. Andrea has mentioned that she has spent years peeling off what God wants vs what humans have made Christianity into. I have a very different background, an Appalachian background mixed with “other” thoughts and ideas about Christianity. My layers are thick and hard to peel at times. I’ve struggled with my worldly flesh and with the other people in my life. So, we have turned to God’s word more to see and understand what God is telling us rather than what we feel or believe to be true. I appreciate Andrea going through all the trouble in making this work for all. One major realization for me was the “trade off” between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. After Jesus stayed with his disciples for 40 days, he ascended leaving behind the Holy Spirit who entered the Disciples. WOW! Wouldn’t it be awesome if we were gathered tonight at church and a rush of wind and sound came and the Holy Spirit entered us. Acts 2:38, we all know too well…repent, be baptized…and you shall receive the GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! According to scripture, we receive the Holy Spirit after baptism. I honestly never gave the Holy Spirit any attention until now. I speak to the Holy Spirit during prayer. I have become more bold in my faith and have asked the Holy Spirit to take over for me. As my faith grows, I feel my relationship with the “HOly Spirit” grow bolder and stronger. Mark has preached about how the apostles met daily to fellowship, break bread and pray. That concept is still haunting me. I am so busy that a quick email or text everyday is all I can do. At times, I can do more than others but by no means am I “continuing steadfastly in the apostles doctrine.” Life among believers at that time is very different than what we see today. Are we to sell our possessions? Are we to have all things in common? What does this look like? I give, don’t get me wrong, I am blessed and give freely but do I give as much as the widow who gave everything? NO!!!! I struggle with this because of my upbringing—remember the layers I am trying to remove??? I grew up very poor, Andrea, I was one of those people you mentioned in your last post. I walked with holes in my shoes, I didn’t starve but certainly went to bed hungry. I lived in a hostile home and bad examples were around me at every turn. I prayed as a child for a better life. God has blessed me with a wonderful husband, beautiful child and a good life. God loves me and I love him! Andrea started to declutter her house of possessions to give or sell for “Godly Purposes.” I will follow her lead and do the same once school is over and I have time to breathe. My final thought from Ch. 2 is a point in which Mark has made over and over. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Although we don’t meet daily, I and others have tried to keep in touch through text or email on a daily basis. If that were to stop, I would feel lost and discouraged as I look forward to hearing from each of you. So, I leave this post to go and make bread. Why? I am meeting with the other apostles tonight to continue to pray and learn scripture…so we have to have someone bring bread! Right??? See you tonight family! Pam
Pam, I didn’t see this post until returning home late this evening. I wish I had understood your “bread” comment earlier during the meeting. I would have found a way to “break bread together.” See my email that I sent you. Many of us actually did end up sharing it together. It was delicious. Thank you!
I volunteer at Faith in Action Thrift Store on Fridays. I am always looking for donations, so if you purge I would be glad to take it. All money earned goes to purchase food for the good bank.
Thank you, Janie. I am sure we will bring some things by there too. Mark and I are purging our shelves here at home and hoping to set up a “lending library” in the building so that we can share what we have with others. Some other things we are hoping to sell to raise money to meet more needs. Thirdly, we hope to donate some things to the children’s ministry and the Jesus and Me ministry. But whatever is left, we will surely donate to Faith in Action.
This is so true and I think a lot of folks would love to go back to the way it is suppose to be. We all are a society of “stuff” and wonder why no one appreciates anything? It is all suppose to make life easier but have to remember folks use to sit on the porch and visit friends and had more time than we do now? The Devil finds his way to control us and keeps us to busy to center in on what is really important, God and the work we should be doing for him. I am so guilty of this and can’t see my way out of it. Thanks for all you are teaching us, wish you had been around years ago! Love ya… >
One of the books that greatly influenced my life about ten years ago is called “Henry and the Great Society,” In fact, I pulled it our recently to reread. It is not a long story, but it got us thinking then about our lives and the simplicity that has been lost. It speaks to what you write about above. I highly recommend it to everyone.