“Settling for Enough in A Culture of More”
In the tenth chapter of Mark a wealthy man comes to Jesus and says what do I have to do to inherit eternal life—I have kept all the commandments, he says. The man asks about eternal life and Jesus reframes the question and talks to him about what it means to be a part of the kingdom of God. “Give all you have and come follow me,” Jesus says. Have you noticed that Jesus doesn’t ask the same question or require the same thing of every person. Remember the man sitting by the pool who could not walk—Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. To the woman at the well Jesus asked something different. Jesus had a way of zeroing in on each person’s weakness. Jesus doesn’t condemn this young man, but rather confronts him with his weakness.
If Jesus walked in the door right now--what question do you think he would ask you?
The first person I ever knew of who gave all she had and followed Jesus was named GertBehanna. I was a young adult when I heard her speak. She came from an extremely wealthy family—they lived in the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. She married at least 3 times searching desperately for love and affirmation—she became an alcoholic and eventually became a part of a group which was something like an Alcoholics Anonymous group before there was AA. And somewhere along the way someone told her about Jesus and she became a Christian. Grace was a new concept for her and she began to seriously consider what she should do with her life. Gert looked at her life and asked herself the question, “What does it mean to be a part of the kingdom of God?”
She read this passage and decided she needed to give away the fortune she had inherited in order to help other people. Gert did just that— She gave her money away, keeping only a small monthly stipend to live on. When telling her story she said if she had known about inflation she would have kept a little bit more to live on each month. Gert Behana knew that money can get us in trouble and it can get in our way if we are serious about living like Jesus. She gave the rest of her life to telling people her story in hopes it would help them focus on the things that really matter in life. Gert really believed that “all that she had and all that she was” belonged to God. I have never forgotten her story. It is easy for me to try to dismiss it by thinking “well, I am not rich—I really can’t do what she did”—I try to get myself off the hook. But we know deep inour heart of hearts that we are all incredibly rich.
If we are to be generous we must reorient our thinking about how we find contentment in life. Paul said, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” We forget that happiness comes from inner spiritual qualities like love, peace, compassion, self-control, gentleness, and
prayerfulness. Even if we have bigger houses, the latest car, “more stuff” we can still feel empty, isolated, and fearful. It is important to be intentional about how we spend our money, to invest in relationships, to live a life of integrity, with a depth of spirit and of mind, seeking to grow in grace and peace.
The most important factor in our contentment is living a life of generosity so that we can be happy with what we have rather than focusing on those things we don’t have. Generous people are usually thankful people. Contentment also emanates from a spiritual awareness that God has already provided everything we need to flourish—we have enough even though our culture tells us we need more.
If Jesus came to tell us this story about the rich young man he might ask each of us a different question—what would he ask you and what would Jesus tell you to do? Think about it?
Collecting School Supplies for Our Neighborhood School
We are collecting school supplies for De Zavala, our neighborhood School: earbuds, fat pencils and crayons for pre-K student, pencils, 1” binders, erasers ( pink ones ), colored construction paper 9 x 12, dividers, individual dry erase boards, expo markers to write on boards, erasers for the boards, stickers to be used for student incentives, poly plastic folders, poster board to be used for student projects. Neighborhood folk are invited to drive by on the 5th Avenue side and drop the supplies off at Arts Fifth Avenue on November 5, 12, and 19. So they won’t have to leave their car— a Breadite will be outside to take the supplies. Let’s us join together in making
sure that all our students have what they need to be successful in school.