Tops on the list: DVDs. Mrs. Frankly and I had a conversation just the other night about the futility of buying more of them. We probably own about a hundred, including all seven seasons of The West Wing and the first four seasons of The Office. I considered asking for season five this Christmas. But why, when I can watch it on Netflix. For many, opting for online delivery or delivery by mail rather than purchasing DVDs is a matter of convenience.
As a follower of Jesus it ought to be more than that for me.
It ought to be a matter of stewardship.
Why do I need to own a movie when I can rent it or borrow it from the library. I can only watch one flick at a time, after all. For the same price I expected to pay to round out my Office collection, I was able to buy nearly four months of Netflix. (Of course, there is another question entirely of whether or not movies are good stewardship of my time and mind.)
I am surrounded, it turns out, by stuff. Collectibles. Books. Tools. My son said just tonight, "Dad, you really have a flashlight fetish." And he's right.
I plan to preach this week from Acts 1 about how the early church anticipated - no, expected - the imminent return of Jesus Christ. This expectation affected their entire lives. I somehow doubt, for example, that the first Christians would have collected every episode chronicling the Josiah Bartlett administration on Digital Video Disc.
Rather, they pared down their possessions. And why wouldn't they? Why collect stuff if Jesus was due back any moment?
The history of the early church records:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. (Acts 4:32-35, NIV)Author and preacher Ed Dobson told in his book, The Year of Living Like Jesus about giving away his clothes. He took John the Baptist's suggestion, quite literally, to give away half of his clothing. He gave away more than half of his suits to young men at a nearby seminary. Dobson is living like the early church lived.
I'm not sure I can really preach that sermon without having a conversation with my family about our attachment to possessions. About our willingness to let go of some things. But if our church is going to become the church God intended, if I am going to be the man God intended, there will probably be many more uncomfortable talks.
And also a few changes.