Summary: Jesus wants us to choose a simple life. The problem is we live in a consumer society which continuously bombards us with the message, you find life and meaning in the pursuit of things. We justify it by calling it the pursuit of the American dream. The mo
ODYSSEY: Travel Light
With my wife and kids living in Arkansas, I fly monthly to visit them. How many of you in the room are frequent travelers? I've discovered with flying today, less is more. Airlines want up to $30 to check a bag. So it’s better, faster and cheaper to keep it as minimal as you can. I’ve reduced my travel life to this roll bag. It's really pretty compact. I can live up to 8 days out of this roll bag. What I've discovered, though, by keeping it simple is that less is more is an important principle in travel. If I took a full suitcase and had to check it each time, the average pick up time at an airport baggage claim is 1/2 hour. If I take 12 trips, that’s 6 hours wasted standing waiting for my bag when I could be spending that time with my family. Less is more. The rule of the day is K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, saints. That is exactly what Jesus is telling us in our Scripture today, that when you travel, travel light. Today we’re talking about simplicity. Sometimes that’s a lifestyle of choice and sometimes it’s forced on us.
One of the hardest things I had to do after Katrina was gut my house and throw everything out that had been ruined by the floodwaters. It seemed like days I was walking to the empty lot across the street where I was piling all of my ruined possessions. One of the lessons I learned in that process is how much stuff I had and didn’t need. When you have to go through your home and throw everything out, you begin to realize all of the stuff you had accumulated in your closets, under your bed, in the attic and in all of your drawers, most of which you didn’t even know you had. And where did it all go? To the curb and then the dump. From that point on, I was committed to living a life of simplicity, being happy with less stuff. Can I get an Amen? That extended to when I was searching for an apartment. I found a 650 square foot apartment with a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Most people walk in say how cute it is and then the next thing they say is, “It’s so small.” But it’s all I need and I’m loving it, snug as a bug in a rug. I can clean my floors in less than 5 minutes and dust in less than 10. Can I get an Amen? That leaves more time with God and to enjoy life.
Jesus wants us to choose a simple life. The problem is we live in a consumer society which continuously bombards us with the message, you find life and meaning in the pursuit of things. We justify it by calling it the pursuit of the American dream. The more you have, the happier you’ll be. The problem is that the joy and happiness of that new car or phone or clothes wears off and so you start searching for the next new thing to make you happy. It seems that so much of our time and debt is based on the pursuit of the American dream and getting more. What we need to understand is that consumption is addictive. By 2006, the average American was spending $1.22 for every dollar earned, and in two years the economy collapsed because we kept pursuing meaning in non-life-giving kinds of sources. George Barna in his latest book Furuturecast says that women spend an average of 8 years of the life shopping, including 301 shopping trips a year and more than 400 hours a year. Despite repeated letdowns, rather than give up on the consumer mentality, we just seek the next newest and latest thing. And what happens is that the pursuit of things gets in the way of our relationship with God. That’s what happened with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They chose to pursue the apple instead of God. Now that apple can be many things to many different people. It can be the lastest sports car or video game or designer purse or shoes or dress. And the result is we take our eyes off of the source of life and turn our eyes upon something or even someone who doesn’t give life.
Now, the kingdom of God states meaning and purpose are found in relationships beginning first with a relationship with God. We find our core identity in this relationship with God, and it's why Jesus called his disciples to himself. Our real identity can only be found in our relationship with God. The American Dream, the kingdom of this world, says you find life in the pursuit of non-life giving sources. In the kingdom of God, you find life in relationships, beginning with our relationship with God. But then there is a second relationship of importance and that’s our relationship with each other. You and I are created for relationships.