I think Jesus asks something pretty extraordinary. He asks that we practice a Christianity where our personal losses can be a gain. It is a charity – a level of love that puts the needs of others above our own. Give, love, share, think of others. Do more than they ask, give more than they think they need or want. He says we need to do this. To enjoy giving to others. No self-justification, no feelings of injustice. No ME ME ME in our prayers and giving and doing.
Sound hard? The Sermon on the Mount does raise the bar very high. These lessons aren’t always easy to hear. They certainly aren’t always easy to practice. But how much do we want to be able to heal? How much do we really want to change the world? To be a blessing to others?
His problem was not too much stuff. His problem was too much love for his stuff. More love for his stuff than for his own life. Think about it. Releasing materiality he would gain eternal life. Doesn't that sort of indicate that holding onto materiality is certain death? Like a death to freedom, death to joy, death to spiritual progress, death to stress-free, unburdened life?
Materiality - the ME ME ME, MINE MINE MINE - has got to go if we want to progress.
One day when I was 18, I read in Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “A great sacrifice of material things must precede this advanced spiritual understanding.”
I thought, “But I want to get married! I want a house, a nice car, a good life!” Then, I realized that this was a demand was for a sacrifice of material things - that which could be destroyed, that isn’t fixed or permanent. I realized that I would always have in my life whatever expressed the bounty of God and that supported my practice of prayer and healing – that which is permanent and spiritual.
If I could answer yes to the second question, I knew there was no risk of loss. Change and progress, yes. But loss, no.
In fact, husbands, wives, homes, bank accounts, transportation can be an expression of God's provision and care. We can put the arms of prayer around all the elements of good that supports spiritual progress in our lives. But stockpiling material things for one's personal, exclusive benefit is a deadly form of materialism.
One of the "Radical Acts" challenges on Time4thinkers.com is: Sell what you have and give to the poor. One commenter who is striving to put this challenge into practice wrote, "I realized that it wasn’t enough to just sell the stuff that I don’t really care about anymore. But that I needed to sell those things that I still feel have value and worth." Thanks for that, Kate.
I thought of my basement packed to the ceiling with boxes of the last treasures I didn't want to part with after our move - things of value, things I still love. Inspiration blew through me like a cool summer breeze. "Let it all go. Give it all to others who need it."
So I have started distributing. My goal this summer is to empty the basement of everything except the Christmas decor.
Whoa. This is big. And it feels just right.