Single-mindedness

Fearing God is a choice.

The second chapter in Simplicity is entitled “Pursuing Single-mindedness.”

It quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and a Scottish theologian named Thomas Chalmers – I’m really starting to like this book!

Passage is from Matthew 6.19-32. From Jesus’ sermon on the mount.

What connections would you make in your own life between the treasures on earth and the stuff that brings anxiety?

“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.

Mmm, treasures. I buy things trusting God for wisdom, but then if something happens to that item, I freak out. It boils down to possessions, I suppose; like they are an extension of myself, and if they’re disrespected it’s like a personal offense. My ideas as a graphic designer fall into this category of possessions as well.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Here I’m going to quote the Scottish theologian. Try to read it with a Scottish accent, for effect:

It is because the eye most looks to what the heart most likes that singleness of eye is made to denote singleness of a heart, set up on heaven and its treasures” (Sermons and Discourses, p. 146)

What do I look at a lot? The healthiest thing I probably look at is online sermons (Northpoint.org/messages) and Christian ministry blogs (Relevantmagazine.com, Neueministry.com). But I don’t spend a lot of time reading my Bible (at least not lately), or doing my devotions. I watch a lot of decorating shows on television, entertain myself online with ‘net humour, and do a lot of online shopping (I just browse, as I have no credit card).

Oh, and I blog incessantly. I think my world revolves around me, actually, and what I want to do. No wonder I’m lost a lot of the time – I see everything that I do and wonder where God is in it, rather than looking to God and let that dictate what I do.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Do I despise money? You know what? I think I do – because I chose to go with a low-cost wedding, and it’s proving to be a lot of work, and if I could just up the budget, things would be easy. But do I hate it because it keeps me from having the really nice treasures on earth? Or because it’s hard work living against our society’s grain? Either way I’m not sure if I do (or should) hate money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Food and clothes bring me anxiety. I always want to do those things wisely, and I feel like it’s a lot of pressure to live up to my ideals (healthy, cheap, home-cooked food, and a limited amount of quality, modest, moderately-priced clothes). I don’t know if I can say I worry about these things, but cooking doesn’t always bring me joy, and my wardrobe doesn’t always satisfy.

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

What a wonderful burn. This is the first time I’m reading the pagan-questions from the standpoint of one who is just trying to make the right choice. I always had thought it was just a basic-needs thing, for example, the hungry person wonders what they’ll eat next. I think that reading is still valid, but in my culture, I have a veritable multitude of options for every need in my life, so my question is more, “What should I eat?” “What should I buy?” “What should I wear?” God knows what I need, and he knows I need wisdom, so maybe I should just trust Him to make things clear in His good timing.

Going back to this eyes/light/darkness/window to the heart thing, I wonder if I’ve been looking at darkness for so long that I can’t see the light. By darkness I mean everything other than God, and I don’t even mean looking at evil things, so much as being distracted. I truly do believe that if I just ask, seek, knock (action words!), He will answer. The illumination I’ve been waiting for is in Christ. Now to go find Him!

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