It’s so easy for us to go through the motions. We look around at our lives and think things are normal, average, or the way they’ve always been. And yet, when we start thinking about things from God’s perspective, they can take on a whole new dimension and they can spark questions that make us quite uncomfortable.
Let me give you an example:
I’ve been reading through William Law’s “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.” This was a book that greatly influenced the likes of Dallas Willard. It was first published in 1729. Like the title sounds, it’s not light reading. And we might wonder what good does it do to read spiritual instruction that is nearly 300 years old?
In a section on the dangers of having more than we need. He says, the reason the Lord tells the young man to sell what he has and give it to the poor, is because giving away that which we do not need is the path to happiness. Because it delivers us from the demon of want.
Then I read this, “For if a man has more food than his own nature requires, how base and unreasonable is it to invent foolish ways of wasting it, and make sport for his own full belly, rather than let his fellow-creatures have the same comfort from food which he had had.” (p.129)
Here’s his argument.
When we want and have more than we need, we will find ways to waste what we have, for our own amusement, rather than giving it to those without – so they might enjoy the blessings we have.
Now, don’t give up… follow me here. I read this on July 3rd. On July 4th, we had the National Hotdog Eating Contest. Joey Chestnut won again by eating 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Miki Sudo was the women’s champion at 48.5 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes
Is this not an exercise in, “foolish ways of wasting it [our food] and make sport for his own full belly”? Law would way this shows a life of spiritual darkness.
Let’s look for a minute at this:
1) It takes food, which is a blessing of God meant for his creatures’ joy and fullness and discards it for a shot a shallow happiness, rather than gratefulness to God for his goodness.
2) There were real creatures of God who gave up their lives for the sake of this sport. We may have the right, given by God to kill his creation to eat, but do we have the right to withhold it from others who need it, for the sake of our own entertainment?
3) If our economy is dependent upon this kind of wasteful consumerism, then what does it say about who we are as a people?
4) What does this do to our souls (fast, quick, shallow entertainment rather than lasting happiness)?
5) That leads to another question, “Can this kind of activity truly be done for the glory of God?” (Col. 3:17, 1 Cor. 10:31)
At this point you may be saying, “Jim takes the fun out of everything.” But spiritual growth is concerned with the question, “What does this thing I’ve accepted as normal, do to my soul?” And “What does it do to God’s light in the world?”
As we pursue God and godliness, the Spirit of God leads us to examine the simple things. This is not so God can be the cosmic killjoy, but so we will see how far we’ve wandered away from the path of true joy.