Thursday, January 05, 2012

Peace Month Daily Reader, day 5

January 5 – Simplicity
Nancy Thomas

Simplicity & Stuff

Read: Psalm 73:23-26, 1 Cor. 4:7

            I love the word “stuff.” Its cocky irreverence encourages me to hold my possessions more lightly. Not that that’s easy to do. I have boxes of precious stuff in the attic and garage that challenge me—someday, maybe soon—to take another step in the simplification of my life.
            To the question of the psalmist, “Who or what do we possess in heaven or on earth that compares to our relationship with God,” I like to add Paul’s rhetorical question, “What do we have that we did not receive?” In various of his letters Paul presents an interesting paradox in regards to our “possessions.” He tells us that in Christ, we possess nothing of our own, yet “all things” belong to us. In his list of hardships as a missionary, he includes “having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6:10).
            How can this be? And, harder yet to answer, how can I make this real in my life? The ideal of open-handed living clashes with the cultural values of consumerism, ownership, and doing all we can to insure security and some measure of the “good life” in our retirement years. I struggle with this on a daily basis.
            In his book, The Freedom of Simplicity, Richard Foster point to a New Testament response to this dilemma in what he calls “unconditional generosity.” He writes that Jesus and other biblical writers “point to us a way of living in which everything we have we receive as a gift, and everything we have is care for by God, and everything we have is available to others when it is right and good. This reality frames the heart of Christian simplicity.”
            Today, think of one concrete way you can live out unconditional generosity.

Lord, change my heart. Help me to recognize that all I have comes from you and belongs to you.
Then help me live with a spirit of unconditional generosity.

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