In a conversation the other night with some other deep thinking individuals with whom I converse with regularly, I caught myself saying something foolish. We were talking about our lives and our possessions. Each of us has too much. There is no doubting that. We were talking whether if it is possible to know where lines should be drawn between care, comfort, and accumulation. After remaining quiet a long time pondering the ideas being offered, my turn came to speak.
I began my answer by saying “Not to be too spiritual. . .” and went on to say how rather different my own life is compared to that of Christ. I mentioned how I really doubt seriously if Jesus would live where I live, do what I do, spend how I spend, or live how I live. Sure, those could be applied more broadly then myself, but since I was being more specific with them than I am here, I was afraid of coming across as “that” Bible guy. You know what I’m talking about.
Well, I thought about my prologue to my answer. I don’t like what I said. When did we American Christians start fearing being “too spiritual”? Why do we feel the need to affirm what the Bible says about marriage or creation without also affirming what the Bible says about money, possession, and judgment? Maybe it’s just me. But, I feel that if you are the type of person who always can bring a discussion back to Jesus than you are ostracized in today’s Western Christian world.
Wasn’t it Jesus who said “You are worried about many thing, but only one thing is needed”? Didn’t Jesus say a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of a man’s possessions? Didn’t Jesus say the rich have a near impossible time entering the kingdom of God? But, if you talk about how Jesus’ life causes you to question whether you are actually following Jesus due to the sheer abundance of possessions, you are “too spiritual.”
During our conversation last night the words “that’s not too practical” was mentioned in reference to the idea of minimalism, care over what we purchase, etc. I did not voice this thought, but it crossed my mind. If Jesus were physically among us today, we would probably call him “unpractical.” Actually, there are those in the faith who are living today like Christ lived on earth. They are called impractical. Would brothers and sisters in Mumbai and Mozambique agree on our attempting to live like Christ with our possessions impractical?
Don’t you wish Jesus further clarified his statement regarding the “abundance of possessions” and gave us a number? Oh, that would be helpful. He doesn’t. Abundance seems to be definable according to the heart of the man who holds the possession. At what point do we no longer trust the Lord and trust our own hands? Maybe that’s it?
The central issue here, though, is this: talking about the call of Christ on our lives, suggesting that we might really consider Christ in all our endeavors (and purchases), is not “too spiritual.” It’s necessary because saying “too spiritual” suggests the false dichotomy between a sacred/secular. That doesn’t really exist in life. Everything in the cosmos plays a part in our moving towards a heavenly or hellish creature (CS Lewis). If that is true, and I think it is, everything is spiritual. Spending our money on yet another useless item we don’t need (which I still do) affects our spirits. Feeding our bellies beyond what is needed not only creates glutenous bodies but souls which become accustomed to never hearing “No.” St. Paul tells us self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Was he referring only to spiritual self-control?
Let us carefully consider whether bringing Jesus into every conversation by considering what he might say or do in our situation is really “too spiritual.” Maybe considering Jesus in every circumstance, taking “each though captive”, is exactly what we need.