Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Messing with my Brain and Rocking my World

I am reading Shane Claiborne's book Irresistible Revolution. Suffice it to say, God is reaching into my heart and head and really defining a new way of living for me. It is terrifying and fabulous all at the same time.

This journey of discipleship that I am on along with my church family and specifically the ministry team here at Central has my world rocked already. Now layer this piece of revolutionary writing on top and I am in complete disequilibrium.

I have been most moved by the small section in this book called, The Theology of Enough. I do not consider myself too caught up in materialism or the trappings of stuff, although I have some pretty great stuff. But none the less this spoke so directly to me. I feel so convicted by the idea of enough. Perhaps because so much of my recent journey has been focused on contentment and these two ideas dovetail so beautifully.

Check out Ex. 16:16 & Deut. 15. Listen to what Shane says, "I am convinced that God did not mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff. Poverty was created not by God but you and me, because we have not learned to love our neighbors as ourselves. Gandhi put it well when he said, "There is enough for everyone's need, but there is not enough for everyone's greed." One of the first commands given to our biblical ancestors while they were stuck in the middle of the wilderness somewhere between Pharaoh's empire and the Promised Land was this "each one was to gather only as much as they needed". In the story of the exodus, God rains down manna from heaven and assures the Israelites that there will be enough. When they save some for the next day, God sends maggots to destroy their stockpile. Maybe we need some maggots today. God systematically interrupts the human systems that create poverty - releasing debt, setting slaves free, redistribution property. Folks always say the Israelites never fully lived out the Jubilee. But our friend Ched Myers says, "That's no excuse to ignore God's commands. That's like saying we don't need to worry about the Sermon on the Mount since Christians have never fully practiced it."

Consequently you can scap the post you read about me working at Coldwater Creek. After this book, prayer and the discernment of two special girl friends and David I resigned. I don't know how at this stage to take seriously the call of "enough" and yet work in a high priced clothing store perpetuating the idea that you need one more blouse to match that jacket.

There is so much more in this book. Each page is loaded with challenges about how to live as a disciple. God is still speaking. Hallelujah!


Steven J Bruce said...

ange told me you were thinking through's obviously a call only you can make; but I am encouraged by your willingness to engage in "radical discipleship". As we've been reading through that book, it's only fueling the tension in my anyone else who is interested in reading it, you've been warned :-) I know you didn't make this decision for this reason, but I'd like to talk with you about sharing your story in some way. We need more "real-life" examples of discipleship in action.

John Grant said...

Yes, that's a "mess up your world" kind of book! Very challenging & I'm glad you're taking it seriously, Ahlene.

All the way through, I found myself arguing, "I can't do that -- I have kids & a mortgage." But Claiborne offers thoughts that can be put into action, so I'm trying. The specifics are greater openness toward others as people & not projects, and a looser grip on stuff.

P.S. Thanks for remembering my b-day. I'm impressed!

susan said...

Arlene, I am so proud of you for having the courage to stand behind your convictions. I know you won't regret it, and you'll be blessed in ways you could never have imagined, just by being obedient. Now I'm feeling kinda guilty about the new blouse/jeans that I bought in there and the really cool watch that I got for "free" :)But, I probably won't be going back, it was a little pricey for me. I really appreciate you sharing on your blog how God is stretching you to new understanding, I'm feeling the same way, I am just not quite as good at expressing it as you. When I read your blog, I think "Yes! That's what I'm trying to say!" Thanx friend.

Taylor W said...

Wow, I've been struggling with "enough" myself for a while now. It'd a difficult part of discipleship and I know my life will be better when I can walk alongside God without the burden of my stuff weighing me down. I especially liked the quote: "I am convinced that God did not mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff."

Good stuff!

Amy said...

I really need to read this book. I think.