My mom left a very concerned message yesterday on my post announcing Summer of 7. I trust her a lot so it got my attention. I’ll admit I had to take a step back and say why is this important? Why am I really pushing myself here? I thought it was worth sharing so you don’t misconstrue what’s happening here.
The first thing I want to touch on is surprisingly a quote from Downton Abbey from the beloved Mr. Carson “What would be the point of living if we didn’t let life change us?”
Good question, Mr. Carson. Because I for one am on a journey. But it’s not just a journey to be a perfect, good-girl Christian. My journey is to be more Christ-like and that means not being perfect (it’s impossible, folks!), but loving God and other people more (Jesus says this is the most important thing!). I also believe love is a verb and so when I become more Christ-like, yes, I do believe that my character will change but that also means my actions will change. But as my former pastor Loran Livingston said, “Works are a result of our faith not a prerequisite.” In other words, I’m not going to end up doing these things so God will love me more or my good will outweigh my bad when I get to heaven. Not at all. I believe Jesus did ALL the work I will ever need on the cross for my salvation.
When I search scriptures, I see he really has a heart for the poor and the downtrodden and the people bound up. In fact, the Bible says in James, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” In Matthew it says, “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” This is just the tip of the iceberg. These are all DOING things. But you don’t do these things so you can BECOME a Christian. It’s the things you should want do BECAUSE of what Christ did for us. Above all, I believe that’s how we show people who God is and live out the gospel.
So what does this have to do with 7? Here is just a snippet of how I think the 7 categories fit into what I talked about above:
- When I eat the right foods, I’m taking care of my body. When I take care of my body, several things happen. First, I am more fit so I can physically complete the good works that God has planned for me and for much longer. Second, I am free from the financial burden of healthcare. And third, I free up my time dedicated to diagnosis, treatment and healing. Let’s not even talk about the quality of life even if you aren’t “sick”. So when I am well and have more time and money, guess what? I can help others more.
- When I am less stressed, once again this can have less effects on my health and I am not thinking so much about me, me, me. I can think and pray more for OTHERS.
- When I can free up my things, I can bless someone else and also not be ruled by my possessions. Possessions have a funny way of multiplying and taking over. More, more, more! When we let go of possessions we not only let go of them in our hearts but again, it frees up more finances.
- When I let go of a preoccupation with clothes, I free up money, time and most of all PRIDE.
- This is a huge one but spending! Wow, can we Americans get tied up in our spending. When we free up finances, we can change the world. And I don’t say that lightly. I have read too much and heard about too much not to care about where my money goes. My money needs to be funneled to the poor, mistreated and hurting.
- Media. I see this simply a thief of our time that we could be doing good works. There are other downsides (you know that part of being polluted by the world?) and upsides to media (connecting with others to love them well!) but for me, it’s time. I’m not quitting media altogether but I do see it as something that needs managed well. This will certainly be a reminder of just how much I’m using media.
- Waste. I think God gave us the earth to take care of it. When we take care of the earth, we’re also taking care of each other, particularly the generations that come after us.
OK, so do you see? I want to love people better and I think by reducing things in my life, I can. I’m not being legalistic. In fact, I want to be FREE from these excesses so I can help others be FREE in Christ. I want to do and be more with what God has given me. Why? Because I want people to know God’s love. I truly believe LIFE is found through his good news!
Now I am FAR from the picture of this person doing good works all the time. But I’m on the journey of loving people more. I think Summer of 7 is just a time to hop off the spinning top of life for a moment. I hope during each of these weeks the times of strain will be times of prayer and reflection in that area and as Mr. Carson said, let [Jesus] change me a bit. The VERY last thing I want to do is mark off this list and then continue exactly the way I was before. I am SO tired of those kinds of exercises. I don’t want to stay in these restrictions because I believe in God we are truly free but I don’t want to leave unchanged. Make sense?
So does that help you see where I’m going with this? And more importantly, have you gotten your book yet??