Summary: How renunciation, in a consumer age, is vital for spiritual development

Gold Within - Nuggets Of Christian Character:

Doing Without

Bible Reading:

Matthew 6: 10,25-34; 18: 7-9

Catechism Reading:

Q/A 124, 125






"I never realized just how important it was until I’d lost it." He shared it with me while laying in a hospital bed some years ago. As a result of an accident, disability and slow therapy there had been huge changes in the life of a man who was once strong, independent, well travelled, and quite accomplished.

"Can say one thing for sure - it really drove me back to the Lord. Kind of scary, actually, when I think about it" he said. "Did I really depend on all those things so much that I’d begun to crowd God out?"

What a realization for that fellow!

One way that God took what was a most difficult situation, and managed to work a real spiritual blessing into his life.

What he was used to, and had plenty of, suddenly was gone. And as his life was rearranged, he came to discover what really mattered.

While I certainly don’t pray for that kind of loss and tragedy to happen in any of our lives, I do pray that we could come to experience what this fellow did -

leaving aside all that which so quickly fills and consumes our time and energy, and come to realize in new, fresh ways what really matters.

And that as we come to realize this, that we can order and control all the experiences and opportunities and things that beckon for our time and attention and resources, and give them only that space and attention that is appropriate for children of the Living God, devoted followers of Jesus Christ, people with the indwelling Holy Spirit.

In Luke 12 Jesus tells a parable of a rich ruler who became fascinated, sidetracked and eventually derailed by his riches.

William Boice reflects on this parable with this prayer:

Dear Lord, I have been re-reading the record of the Rich Young Ruler and his obviously wrong choice. But it has set me thinking. No matter how much wealth he had, he could not ride in a car, have any surgery, turn on a light, buy penicillin, hear a pipe organ, watch TV, wash dishes in running water, type a letter, mow a lawn, fly in an airplane, sleep on an innerspring mattress, or talk on the phone. If he was rich, then what am I?

We are an incredibly rich society.

And incredibly power - tremendous resources and potential right at our fingertips.

Which can be a blessing. But also is very dangerous!

In The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen retells a tale from ancient India:

Four royal brothers decided each to master a special ability. Time went by, and the brothers met to reveal what they had learned.

"I have mastered a science," said the first, "by which I can take but a bone of some creature and create the flesh that goes with it."

"I," said the second, "know how to grow that creature’s skin and hair if there is flesh on its bones."

The third said, "I am able to create its limbs if I have the flesh, the skin, and the hair."

"And I," concluded the fourth, "know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete."

Thereupon the brothers went into the jungle to find a bone so they could demonstrate their specialties. As fate would have it, the bone they found was a lion’s. One added flesh to the bone, the second grew hide and hair, the third completed it with matching limbs, and the fourth gave the lion life. Shaking its mane, the ferocious beast arose and jumped on his creators. He killed them all and vanished contentedly into the jungle.

Says Nouwen, "We too have the capacity to create what can devour us. Goals and dreams can consume us. Possessions and property can turn and destroy us -- unless we first seek God’s kingdom and righteousness, and allow him to breathe into what we make of life."

And so, as we continue our evening series studying the growth of Christian character we come to the topic of "renunciation"

RENUNCIATION - a "giving up" for a "better good";

C.S. Lewis once remarked: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ’thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’."

Renunciation, doing without, helps to shape us into characters and beings that can, within the context of much and plenty - far more than the mere daily bread we need from our Father in heaven --

--- that we can honestly pray, "Thy will be done."

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