Friday, June 23, 2006

Thought on Accumulation

I wonder if many of our struggles in life have to do with the impulse toward accumulation.

When we decide where to spend Christmas, for example, what is our criteria? Where do our desires come from? What are the assumptions that drive our expectations? We might say family relationships; but there are dozens of better ways to grow in our relationships with our families that involve less of the busyness & emotional chaos most mass-family-gatherings come with. So what is it?

Perhaps it is accumulation. Perhaps we seek to accumulate family memories & reminders that we have a people somewhere out there... a tribe we belong to. We work to accumulate the sensation of belonging or the feeling of having a home. But where is Christ's home? And where was His home when he lived the Way on earth 2,000 years ago?

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." Jesus answered, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Luke 9:57).

We do belong to a spiritual home in a spiritual kingdom that is not of this earth. We have a home Christ has prepared for us in the Father's house. There is nothing to accumulate here. We are aliens & strangers in a planet corrupted by sin so that we can never sink roots into its toxic soil.

We live in this place, but do not accumulate it so that our hearts would believe it is ours or that we belong here. We enjoy "rights" granted by our nation's government... but do not accumulate them so our hearts believe they are "inalienable" nor otherwise possessible. We invest into husbands or wives & children... but do not accumulate them so as to find our hearts holding them tightly.

We are visitors... on earth, in mortality, in marriage, in parenthood, etc. Just passing by... Nothing in our hands... Nothing to hold onto... Nothing that can be taken away. Our inheritance is "imperishable, undefiled & will not fade away - & is reserved in heaven" (1 Peter 1:4).

We no longer have to build careers or ministries or networks or programs or institutions or movements or revolutions or mortal futures or legacies or any other thing. We need only live in this moment, worrying not about tomorrow but exercising our disciplines of life, love & humility in the present & passing instance. There is no time to accumulate... no day to seize. We simply engage - now. We do not wait nor hesitate to dive into the living water that is intimacy & obedience & faith & fruitfulness in Christ.

There is no depth in Christ to accumulate either. The depth has been accumulated already by Him. We need only to settle into Christ as a traveler on a ship. We do not possess the ship. Certainly we engage the ship... communicate with our Captain... offer our passion & creativity & courage & love & desire & initiative to Him. Certainly Peter was not purely passive when He cried out for Jesus to command Him to walk on the water. Peter took initiative & Jesus responded. But Peter did not accumulate anything there... he simply cast himself onto water & into faith. He allowed himself to be accumulated.

"The kingdom is a treasure in a field ... or a pearl ... or lost coins ... to accumulate." So goes the idea of the parables. And perhaps that's the breakdown of this thought... that Christ is ours to accumulate & hold onto. But I have found that once we have obtained the Way, Truth, & Life... we suddenly realize the dramatic reality that we have not accumulated Christ but He has accumulated us.

"So... where do we spend Christmas now, Lord?"


Ordinary Radical said...

Great post. Much needed for myself. Thanks as usual brother.

John Lynch said...

Right on, G. Dude... you're about to experience the kind of anti-accumulation surrender that will be difficult for me to imagine. I'm praying for you & excited for you brother!