The Rebuttal

In case you missed Kyle’s post yesterday, here it is. This is my response.

I usually read our previous posts (re: Kyle’s) and love them, dwell on them, and move on. I get the digital thumbs up that it’s my turn to write, so I sit down with my oatmeal and coffee and churn out something brand new. But because it’s our blog, I don’t have to be relegated to the comments section, but rather get to write an entire post in response to his.

For the last few years, I’ve battled with my family over what we’re all getting for Christmas. That’s right, all of us. My mom would email us asking for gift ideas and I’d reply all with some self-sacrificing antidote on why none of us want anything and that we should all just donate money to (insert 501c3 of your choice here) and call it done. I know everyone is feeling sorry for my family (as you should) but they’re very much used to my whims of nonsense and we all got gifts anyway. Which I may or may not have later donated to charity.

I don’t think Kyle struggled with this type of sin before I came into his life. I don’t think he would ever have known what Toms were or that he would have struggled to rid himself of things in the name of Christ. In fact, I think he was slightly on the other end of the spectrum (the 12 Masters polos in his closet would serve to prove my point), but I think I’ve gradually pulled him over to the other side. I really struggle with a sort of emergent worldview that the less we have, the more we’re serving the Lord. I think most of what’s in our hearts is good, though we’re still not quite there. Maybe we do it because we think if we don’t have a lot of stuff, we’re not able or called to actually give anything. Maybe we think we’re identifying with the less fortunate by depriving ourself of worldly objects. I don’t know. But I am learning this:

When we rid ourselves of things, be it material possessions or the views we have of ourselves, all it leaves is empty space. We’re getting so good at ridding ourselves of stuff (well, come over and you can be the judge) but all it’s leaving is an empty house.

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”- Matthew 12:40-45

We’re putting our house in order. We’re getting rid of all the “wrong” things, buying all the “if this is all I owned I’d be hippie but it actually cost 2k and I throw it around in my trunk” stuff. Our generation (or at least some of us) are getting so good at living a self-sacrificing lifestyle, except that it isn’t FOR anything. Other than a better image of ourselves. Our sin is still in worshipping our stuff, except that we worship the lack of stuff. And we pat ourselves on the back.

To my wise husband- I’m sorry I’ve taken advantage of the things you love about me and turned them into the only way to honor Christ. I really believe this is our biggest struggle and that I’m often at the forefront of it. I know that things don’t define us as good, but they also don’t make us sinful. That comes only from our human hearts, and from making an idol of the state of our household. Lead on, even if it’s in your Masters polo. I’m okay with that, and I promise I won’t give them away.

5 thoughts on “The Rebuttal”

  1. Geez. Way to turn the tables, Jen! But I think you're spot on. And this is exactly where I think Shane Claiborne (a la Kyle's post yesterday) falls short: worshiping lack of stuff instead of the giver and taker of stuff. The latter is much more satisfying.

  2. Some people need to divest themselves of their wealth (Mtw 19:21), but maybe not all. Jesus told us that sacrifice really isn’t the point, mercy is (Mtw 9:13) (I also love Isaiah 58:3-9).

    It seems like sacrifice should be for a purpose, and it should bring you closer to God, so if it feels sinful, it probably is. Maybe it’s better to think carefully about the purchases we make with mercy in mind. And anticipate that, yeah, we’re all called on to make sacrifices at one point or another.

    I was genuinely confused by this sentence “We’re getting rid of all the ‘wrong’ things, buying all the ‘if this is all I owned I’d be hippie but it actually cost 2k and I throw it around in my trunk’ stuff.” What does it mean? What’s an example of a hippie-ish item that costs $2k and gets thrown around in a trunk?

  3. So true…

    There is a really beautiful song by Shane and Shane (who happen to be based in your area btw) called "I miss you" that I think perfectly illustrates this concept.

    "Put down your paper plate, come to the table made, deep blue china found at the table by the wine, so fine. It brings out flavor like you bring out color in life. Oh I miss you, the feel of forever. Oh that taste I know, it hurts to remember.""

    There are so many things in our lives as Christians that become "paper plates." Be it possessions, relationships, our careers, our self-proclaimed "good-deeds", we choose to hold on to them and eat at our own little kids table with plastic silverware and a paper plate, when instead we should be dining with all that is beautiful about being at Christ's table. Our "paper plates" aren't always bad things in and of themselves, but they can become so if we let them keep us from dining and being fully with God– letting God bring out the full color and flavors in our lives that can include all of the wonderful things he's blessed us with on this earth.

    "I'm haunted by my God who has the right to ask my what by the nature of my rebellion I cannot give."

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