Sunday, July 10, 2005

What if we really lived like Jesus?

Thanks to Tony, I am reading Mere Discipleship by Lee C. Camp. After having read the first two chapters, I am intrigued by the question that Camp raises: What if everyone really lived the way that Jesus and his disciples lived; what if we made Jesus’ life an example and model for our own? The popular opinion, Camp asserts, is that

“the way of Christ is simply not a relevant social ethic, lest injustice reign and the violent vanquish the righteous. Christians cannot take the way of Christ seriously, or society will fall apart, will sink into a spiral of unmitigated violence. Justice is at stake. Civilization itself is at stake. Jesus could not have meant that we take him seriously in the realm of social and political realities—after all, what would happen if everybody did that?! Consequently, “Jesus,” “Christianity,” and even “discipleship” are reduced to a mere “spirituality,” a realm that has little if anything to do with the concrete realities of culture, civilization, and politics.” (page 34)

Christ’s teachings, says Camp, “inform our attitudes, but not our actions” (36). His teachings are something that we internalize for the sake of our spirituality but don’t necessarily live out because it isn’t practical in our society.

I have to wonder, what would happen if all Christians started to live the kind of life that Jesus and the apostles did? What would that entail?

Jesus had a completely self-sacrificing attitude, not just in his death on the cross, but in his life as well. His own personal comfort was secondary to the needs of others. He did not own a house full of stuff. He spent his time taking care of the needs of others rather than working at a job to pay for a house and all the materials to fill it.

What if Christians suddenly decided to live on less money than we earn, buying only what is necessary for life, and using the rest to help others? What if we downsized our houses, got rid of cars with payments and drove—gasp!—paid for cars, stopped eating out so much, bought fewer new clothes, did without the latest gadgets, etc. I think if we did that, we could work less because we wouldn’t have so much to pay for, and we could spend more time with our families, and we could spend more time just being nice to people. We would be healthier because of the reduced stress. Of course, we probably wouldn’t have computers and be here blogging about it.

However, there would be some repercussions on the national economy if Christians suddenly lived like Christ. If we downsized and paid off all our debt, the economy would suffer without our paying all that interest on houses, cars, and credit card purchases. Stores would lose money because we wouldn’t be buying so much. Stocks would plummet. It could cause chaos. We would be blamed for the downfall of the American way of life—and then talk about persecution!

So I guess we’d better stay the way we are. We don’t want to rock the boat or have people look at us like we’re crazy. Living too much like Jesus would be a burden and a cross that we don’t want to shoulder—no matter what Jesus said.


jettybetty said...

I don't have my book yet--should be here any day! Have you read "In His Steps"? Sounds like they may have the same message--even though IHS is written as a story.

I can go with you pretty much all the way--but I must have my computer and cable modem. Do you think Jesus would have one if he were here today???

Perhaps my book will come tomorrow!


Tony Arnold said...

I warned you and JettyBetty. It is an intriguing, inspirational, but uncomfortable book. Lee has really impacted how I think and how I live.

FYI--Lee grew up in Alabama and in a conservative CofC. Now he is irritating many in that demographic with his message. There have been a few heated discussions in the class he taught at our Church. One of our elders even denounced some of his message from the pulpit (see one of Preston's old blogs).

I really love Lee, his heart for Christ, and his boldness that I believe comes from complete conviction. Pray for he and his family as they leave London this week and travel to Nairobi.


Real Live Preacher said...

I stumbled into this place today, and I heard something familiar. It is the sound of a soul struggling with the deeper implications of the gospel. It is the sound of a life changed. This is a good place. These are good words.

love in Christ,


JMG said...

Hi RLP! It is great to have you here! I read your blog all the time and really enjoy the things you have to say. Please stop by again.

Tony, I can see how the "establishment" would be uncomfortable with Camp's message. I'm rather liking it so far myself.

JB, I don't know if Jesus would have a computer, but I bet he wouldn't have a cell phone!

Preston said...

Excellent post. It's good to read the thoughts of people who are struggling with discipleship in many of the ways I am.
When I read Mere Discipleship about a year ago, it dawned on me that this is why Jesus warned would-be followers to count the cost. Being a Jesus person has some consequences.
Also, kudos on freeing up thirty dollars. I agree that God does not want our money, he wants our freedom.

jettybetty said...

Okay, I will do without my cell phone, if I don't have to give up my computer.
Giving up the computer would be just tooooo radical, huh???

Layla said...

This is a great post and coversation! I am going to order the book, I love getting recommendations and it sounds like an excellent, thought-provoker (my favorite).

Please - don't any of you get rid of your computers! They are valuable tools to encourage one another and so much more :)

Tony Arnold said...

If we gave up our computers and connections, we would not be able to grow in our discipleship in the manner our blog discussions are allowing. I could not possibly get the insight and wisdom from people like you, JettyBetty, and so many others, that live distances away from me, and that I would never have encountered outside the blog world.

It is how we use God's resources that is important--stewardship. If we have luxuries that cost us His provided resources, and these luxuries are not furthering the Kingdom or our spiritual growth, then they are great targets for elimination.


JMG said...

That's a good point, Tony. It's all in how we use the stuff we've got. Perhaps simplifying/scaling down entails more than just getting rid of unneeded stuff. It also involves reevaluating what we do with the resources we have. If all we do is play games on our computers, we should probably get rid of them, but if we are seriously trying to learn and grow by sharing our spiritual journeys with others, we are being good stewards.

Tony, I think that's the first time I've ever seen anyone use my name and widsom in the same sentence!

jettybetty said...

Tony has some good points--I do have to be careful with my computer even--you all probably know it CAN take over! It also can be a wonderful tool and I want to use it and all my "stuff" that way!

I am encouraged, too--I think Tony is so wise--I am with JMG--I don't usually see my name with that word. I think I am just a seeker!

My book is still not here--how long could it take??? Perhaps today is the day!!!


jettybetty said...

I think we were posting on each other's blogs at the same time!!! What a way to get together!!!

I kept thinking of "be still and know I am God"--as a solution to my busyness and inattentiveness. Is that what you are thinking?

Aggie-ed took the pics--technology toys are his thing--I hope he never moves far away, because he keeps all of our "fixed". You remember I am using them to in a God-honoring way--at least I pray I am !!!

Blessings for today!!


JMG said...

JB, I ordered my book from Amazon. I have never had to wait for more than a couple of days for anything from them.

You have some catching up to do--I'm already up to chapter 6. But I'm going to have to go back and re-read everything. I tend to read faster the first time and then really digest it on the second read.

Clarissa said...

I use my cellphone to reach out to seekers and those in need as much as I use it for anything ... nope, not giving it up. Also use it for emergencies and to keep up with/encourage/be encouraged BY friends and family while I'm unable to be doing other things (since I'm driving!!)
I'm not sure what we would give up, we're really not involved in that much. Interesting to ponder. Church activities are most of the things we "go do" other than my husband going to work, which he must do to feed the wife and four kids and himself and pay for shelter and transportation. We tried having an older car and it just kept breaking down. It turned out cheaper to just have a newer one on payments than to keep spending a thousand here or a thousand there to fix a car worth 500 dollars, not to mention the difficulty it caused when it broke down across town somewhere. Ugh.

And I go to my various, random, occasional work activities (accompanying and singing jobs) and really try to be aware of situations there where Jesus would make his presence felt and known; I try to be (I want to be -- I hope I am) his representative in those situations. Sometimes that's a fruit-bearing exercise, sometimes it isn't ... but I believe it's always a worthy exercise and it's always one to be bathed in prayer.
Everyone we encounter needs God and his way entrenched in his/her life more deeply, even those we encounter "in church". (That last part's easy to forget sometimes.)

I'm probably totally missing the point of your post, sorry. Just tangenting in the middle of the night.

JMG said...

I think cell phones are valuable tools at times. I just don't think Jesus would have one because he was in constant communication with his father.

And the disciples would have been calling all the time when he sent them out two by two. They would never have learned anything. :-)