In one of these strange juxtapositions of life, I found myself last week preaching on the story of the rich young man whom Jesus loved (Mark 10:17-30), while also packing boxes in preparation to move to another Manse. The young man’s problem of course is that while he had kept all the commandments without too much difficulty (“since was a boy”), he could not relinquish his possessions in order to follow Jesus.
I confess I am (like my late Dad) a terrible hoarder and as I made yet another trip down to the local skip, I began to wonder what Jesus would say to me about my possessions? Some, of course, are necessary for my role as a minister, some are required for normal life, but do I really need to keep theatre programmes from twenty years ago? Do I really need all the books I have accumulated over the years? Might I have used the resources God has given me more wisely?
I don’t have an answer – at least not yet – to these ponderings, but I do think that the question of our attachment to material possessions needs urgently to be asked in our very materialistic and acquisitive society.
The problem for that young man, and I suspect for many western Christians, is how much does our “stuff” aid or hinder our relationship with God, the giver of every good and perfect gift. I recall Desmond Tutu once saying that if we own one book, just one, we are richer than 90% of the world’s population. For someone with a large library and also a Kindle Fire, that made me sit up and think.
So as my mother and myself pack our boxes, maybe I need to do an audit of what I really need for the new house, and what is just froth. And maybe you need, like me and the rich young man, to do your own “possession audit”, even if you are staying put just where you are at present!
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