The American society definitely has a problem with the ambition to gain material things. The best illustration of this, in my opinion, is that stupid Jessica Simpson commercial that ends with her acknowledging that she doesn’t know what some technical terms mean that describe some new TV enhancement technology. So in spite of not knowing she still says “but I want it.” This is so typical of the “keeping up with the Jones’” mentality. The rich man that approached Jesus obviously had idolatry in his riches. Now I ask, is there such a missionary that lives in a comfortable society? Is there such a missionary that attempts to reach the comfortably lost in subtle ways in non-third world countries? Does this missionary refrain from radical demonstrations and approach the spiritually ignorant in natural and strategic demonstrations of love? I dare say yes for I will attempt to live my life this way unless God instructs me otherwise. In line with the fishing analogy, here is one I just thought of. Instead of storming down the dock at daybreak, the wise and successful fisherman tries not to spook the fish he/she is after. The commotion occurs once the fish realizes its caught. There’s many ways to entertain this analogy from this point forward, but unnecessary for my intentions. I praise God for the AIM ministry and support it financially. I also recognize that God’s love is not limited to any demographic region of the world. So my invitation to all followers of Jesus is – let’s go fishing! Anywhere and everywhere there is a body of water inhabited by fish. Let’s go fishing! 2/3 of the Earth is made up of water. There’s likely to be a fishing hole near you.
Why launch into deep waters?
A year or so ago, one of the greatest anachronisms and human interest stories of the past century came to a close. Hemingway wrote his short story “The Old Man and the Sea” back in the 1950’s.
If you’re like me, you assumed that the old man described in the story died a long time ago. After all, he and Hemingway first met in 1928. He was Hemingway’s boat pilot. But in fact, the man – whose name is Gregorio Fuentes – lived to be 104 and just died. Fuentes lived a life battling the sea.
All of us are a little like Fuentes – we’re made for the seafaring life. God has a destiny for us and it’s filled with adventure. Here’s an analogy that Fuentes would appreciate: We’re like boats made for the open sea. My uncle had a sign outside his front door, “Oh Lord, the sea is so big and my boat is so small.”
Think about leaving and cleaving. We do it when we marry, but how do we leave the world behind and cleave to Jesus? Don’t underestimate the importance of this first task of leaving. Luke 12:13-34 is Jesus’ slap at those whose heart is wrapped around the things of this world. It culminates in the following directive: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
How important is your stereo system, your car, your home? How about your 401k?
And while we’re asking questions, why do so few American Christians follow the path that Jesus recommends? Why do so few follow his example? How does a person immersed in a comfortable lifestyle leave it all behind?
It’s like playing the TV show “The Price is Right.” Most Americans want to hang on to the life they’ve got now – that is to say, the insurance policies, the mortgage, the furniture – the stuff that keeps them secure. They can see it. It’s a safe bet. What’s behind the curtain is dangerous. It could be a fabulous prize – a vacation to Tahiti, or it could a joke – a donkey pulling a broken-down wagon.
Given this dangerous calculus, why risk life and limb for whatever is behind the curtain?
The answer: Eventually, the shallowness of our lives takes its toll. The TV programs that bring us a respite from the day also isolate us. The debt that bought a large house brings increasing worry. The accumulation of material things complicates our lives as stuff breaks and need repair. The job that finances our lifestyle begins to dominate our schedule.
At some point in life, upon reflection, the rewards just don’t seem so rewarding anymore. We see that success does not equal significance. In contrast, the risk of trading it all in for the life of abandon that Jesus advocated doesn’t seem to be so intolerably high.
God’s people have always found their destiny in abandoning the moorings of a comfortable world in order to launch out into deep waters. What keeps you in a safe harbor?