The simple life puts God in first place

The idea that living the simple life can bring you closer to God is certainly not new.

More than 1500 years ago, monks took vows of poverty so they wouldn't be distracted by material things.

Of course, they didn't have television and iPods then (and the Internet!), but even in those days they recognized that involvement with material things took away from time that could have been spent in prayer and doing charitable works. The Amish and related sects carry that notion down to today.

Do we have to give everything up to live the simple life? Do we have to abandon all our electrical appliances to gain intimacy with God? Or is there another way to approach it?

Where's your heart?

It does seem to hold true that the more "stuff" we own, the more time we spend taking care of it. Even dusting it takes time. But Jesus says that the key is where we put our attention, what we value the most:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mt. 6:19-21)

He's telling us that material things are fine in their place, but they do have a place. There's nothing wrong with owning a microwave or having a nice house, but we should remember that we're to love people and use things, not the other way around.

In my life, I've found that the closer I want to be with God, the less I desire material things. It's simply a case of priorities. And once you've gotten the hunger for God, material goods--no matter how shiny or stylish--seem like rubbish in comparison.

Should we live in caves?

The simple life may be a backlash from the conspicuous consumption that many people practice. Those who've tried to simplify say they actually have been happier with less.

So where does that leave you and me? Should we sell all our stuff, give the money to the poor, and go live in a cave?

Where I live, in Illinois, in the United States, there's a real shortage of caves, and even if I could find one, I'd turn into a hermitcicle in the winter.

There's no doubt. The pursuit of God does require a change in attitude. We need to quit running ourselves into debt to keep up with the neighbors.

If we want to have an intimate relationship with God, we've got to give him our time and effort. This takes a conscious decision and eventually some sacrifices.

Family and friends may wonder why you haven't bought the latest gadget. And you have to grow beyond the myth that the size and newness of your car shows how "successful" you are in life.

Change your mind, change your life

The simple life requires a simple decision: What is more important to you, God or stuff?

Jesus said we can't serve two masters. We have to make a choice. We have to decide whether we want to pour our life into treasures that will one day end up in the landfill or treasures that will be ours when we get to heaven.

Gee. I don't think that's a tough choice to make. Do you?






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