Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Cost of Morally Beautiful Community - Treasures on Earth - Part 1

There is a discussion going on at the Dialogical Coffee House about politics and the role of the Christian. I do not know politics. I am not wise. But I do know how to live in freedom. The presence of Jesus - this I know. The following series of posts is my take on the path to cultural renewal.
I fear as I write on the subject of materialism and the cost of discipleship, I will lose some of my readers. Blogging is a hard medium to explain the nuances of biblical ethics. So, I ask you to bear with me. The church and all of us have a dream put in our hearts that is calling us to live in our true humanity and in the footsteps of Jesus. I am going to begin the discussion with a story from my youth. I have known the reality of freedom as a single man, and I seek to learn this reality as a father and a husband. The principles are the same though the specific application must be different. Over time, I will distill the ethical principles and seek to live it out and, by the grace of God, offer up "something beautiful for God".

Yes, "I have had enough of romantic love and I again am gonna give it up for a miracle"..the miracle of the morally beautiful life and the end of it all. The end of it all - the morally beautiful community that is in His mind. It is time to "see His thoughts take shape and walk right out".

The Cost of Discipleship
But what is the cost of seeing such a dream take shape. "The foxes have holes and the bird of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head". All of the Words of Jesus come together and place us in crisis. Freedom is the faith to walk into obedience without fear. So few believers know the freedom of entering the story of the Son of Man who has no where to lay his head. But I have a story...and this story is being revived as the challenge of living something beautiful for God places us in the crisis we need if we are to become free to feed.

Free to Feed
When I was about 26 or 27, I lived in a Christian community in downtown Anaheim. I was the leader of this community with another young man. There was about 5 of us single men who were all college educated but had been taken by the story of the kingdom. We functioned as a recovery home and had about 5-6 other men living with us who needed deliverance from life controlling addictions. The ministry was wonderful. I often say those years were one continual prayer meeting. We attended the Anaheim Vineyard. I was on staff and ran the Benevolence Ministry.

One day while I was praying from the Book of Luke, I remember reading this passage of the rich young ruler, Luke 18:21-22. The rich young ruler responding to Jesus question about his obedience to the commandments says,
"All these things I have kept from my youth." 22When Jesus heard this, He said to him, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
I decided I wanted to find out what this passage meant. So I took my one possession other than my clothes and my guitar, my truck, and I drove to my parent's business. I dropped the truck off and took a bus ride back to Anaheim.
I remember that bus ride home. I was never so happy in my entire life. What is it about choosing to live the dream that creates a cathartic experience of freedom and hope and joy? For the next few years...I walked most everywhere. I met many people and had fantastic success in ministry.

Mother Teresa has a phrase that I absolutely love, "Gospel Poverty". She says that the world has millions or even billions of poor people who are there in poverty because of the sinfulness of the world we live in. But, we, the "sisters of charity", we live in poverty because Christ has set us free and set us to be the Gospel to the world. We are kings and princes, and yet, we come down to live incarnationally with and in the suffering of the poor. We identify with the suffering of the world and quench the thirst of Christ for souls. Mother Teresa was free to feed. She wept at he feet of Jesus and, by grace, offered up something beautiful for God.

Today, I have six children and one wife and many responsibilities. BUT I AM STILL CALLED TO GOSPEL POVERTY. I, and you, are still called to live as the Love of God for the poor of the world. We are all called to make our lives something beautiful for God. This beauty and freedom is the dream of the kingdom, and there is no freedom until we give up our romantic notions of love and step out and give shape to the Words of God and the compassion of Christ.

The next series of posts are going to look deeply, and hopefully in a balanced way, at what it means to step into freedom and live for the Love of God ALONE.

God Bless,

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