Reflection on Simplifying our Lives

There is nothing like moving house to make me squirm at Sunday’s gospel reading. The gospel according to Mark (10:17-31) challenges us outright about the power of possessions to separate us from God. Where do our priorities lie? Is it what or whom that’s more important?

Simplifying our lives is never easy. Even when we think we have very little, in the grand scheme of life we have a lot of things, and each thing we have weighs upon us. Our possessions have far greater control over us than we might ever want to admit.

Our Christian faith calls us to let go of our attachment to things. In the text, someone cannot quite put a finger on what they have to do to have eternal life. By eternal life they may not mean some kind of reward in heaven, but rather a sense of belonging to God.

The individual in question has done everything right – or so they think. They might believe there is checklist to earn eternal life. Many in our churches might well relate to this individual. We live good lives. But the weight of things still controls us. “You really want to feel closer to God?” Jesus seems to be saying. “Check your priorities. Then – and only then – will you be able to learn how to trust in God.”

Selling all we have and giving all to the poor is not practical. But that does not let us off the hook. How might we lessen our dependence on “stuff” so that we might increase our trust in God? In the gospel story, the rich man seems to recognize that wealth hinders his relationship with God but he fears change.

This week provides opportunity to reflect on how wealth and possessions can get in the way of faithful living, and to ponder how we might divest ourselves of some of what we have. We might also reflect as church community on our attachment to things like our buildings and familiar ways.

What would it mean for us to give away what we have or let go of some out-moded ways of doing things in order to respond more fully to Jesus’ invitation to follow his ways? What risk would it involve? What benefit to our spiritual lives would be worth the risk?

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