I can always depend on God to shake the complacency out of me.
He’s confronting me through three books that have really made me squirm in my spirit: Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, Jeff Goins’s Wrecked, and Jen Hatmaker’s 7. The underlying theme: get up off your indulgent duff, stop being so self-centered, and live like you really follow Christ.
These are not warm and fuzzy books. They will make you uncomfortable and disinclined to read them. Not because they aren’t good books, but because they make a demand on your claim to be a Christian. You don’t get to the end of each chapter and coo: “That was sooooo good!” Rather, your response might sound like: “Shoot! What the heck do I do now? “
I wish I could commit to even a quarter of what Jen Hatmaker attempted in 7. For each of seven months, she chose one of seven categories (food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress) and limited herself to seven items in order to curb excess and rein in indulgence.
Yesterday, I finished the second chapter of 7, which dealt with clothing. I wish I could say that I put the book down with a sense of encouragement. I didn’t. I was convicted of self-absorption and a myopic world view.
An old-fashioned word came to mind: temperance. It means exercising control over excess and restraining impulses. It’s a concept that some Christians don’t know, or don’t live as if we know.
I confess to the spirit of entitlement. Our lifestyles are so soaked in the brine of prosperity and comfort that we are inoculated against the selfless life to which Jesus called us. Our askew concepts of taking up our cross and of living out the Golden Rule are a sure-fire recipe for an epic spiritual fail.
As I read about Jen’s pared down wardrobe-for-a-month, I thought about my recent clothing purchases, online and in-store. Lord. Have. Mercy.
Of course, there are the justifications. It was on sale. It’s cute. I needed it. I want it. I haven’t bought anything in soooo long. Plus, it matches so many other outfits. Help!
Guys, less truly is more. What if we really took that to heart?
- We might grow closer to God’s version of “normal” and farther away from ours because we’re less distracted by our “stuff.” “When we get over our pursuit of self,” says Jeff Goins, “everything changes. The result is a feeling of being wrecked.” John 3:30 would become a reality: I decrease so that He can increase.
- We might hear from God far more clearly about His plans for our lives and for those who are waiting for us to respond His call to a more measured life and more thoughtful choices. “What I can say is that you must learn to listen to and obey God,” says Francis Chan, “especially in a society where it’s easy and expected to do what is most comfortable.”
- We might place far more weight on the flighty decisions we make regarding how we use our resources. “What if I believed every dollar spent is vital, a potential soldier in the war on inequality?” says Jen Hatmaker. “We’ll stand before Jesus once, and none of our luxuries will accompany us. We’ll have one moment to say, ‘This is how I lived.'”
Do you sense God calling you to “wake up and live”? How do you live out “less is more”?