Friday, May 22, 2009

Enough to share

What is Enough?

Enough, by Will Samson is a book that asks questions for those who seek contentment in an Age of excess. With all the privilege and possession I have in my life and world, how is it that at times I still feel I'm missing something? It's in reading his book that I find that I'm not the only one asking these kinds of questions.

"We were living the model American Christian life. We had nice kids, great jobs, fun cars and still found time and a bit of money for the church. Why wasn't I happy?" (Samson, pg 23)

As a result of Samson's honesty, I discovered a sense of freedom to ask my own questions concerning my search for contentment. In all the striving for possessions, what is being lost in the exchange? What is the human cost of consumption? To break it down further, how does unending consumption effect the heart, mind, body and soul of humanity?

It was refreshing to hear Sampson's perspective in struggling to resolve the conflicts that over-consumption instigate. Many of his questions, echo my uneasy feeling when intangible needs are attempted to be met with tangible resources. How do we discern what is physically enough and if we feel we are to entangled by material things, how do we take steps to become untangled?

Enough, allows the reader to wrestle through their own questions of balancing consumption and contentment, and with Samson's help - begins to reconnect the reader with opportunities for change in daily life.

" Christianity includes a implicit call to embody our faith, to be that which we believe...Imagine the transformation in our lives, our communities, our congregations, if we began to literally offer ourselves as 'living sacrifices' and did so graciously." (Samson, pg 41-42)

In resetting the reality of over-consumption in perspective to the example of Jesus words and life, Samson helps to strip away the attitudes self-focused therapeutic faith or nationalistic entitlement that can muddy the focus of the gospel. It is only in moving beyond seeking our own well-being and a sense of entitlement because of the fortune of where we were born, that we can begin to sort out to live out a sacrificial life lived to benefit others. In looking to others needs, we can begin to better understand and live and understand Christ's humility, that all his followers are called to live in. If our life's work as Christians is to foster the restoration of earth as it is in heaven, then we should look at the challenge written in this paraphrase of Amos 5:18-27 as it is recounted in Samson's book.

"Seek the welfare of your community. As people in exile, your future and the future of the place you live are one and the same. So make you world more whole, that you might be more holy.
And live in love. I had hoped you would get that message when my Son joined humanity and demonstrated sacrificial love in action. But you are so worried about his return that you forget why he came. Be a people shaped by the model of Jesus, not just the prospect of escaping the world I have asked you to help heal."(Samson, 63)

Beyond Hot Buttons

In a time where hot button topics like debates on sexual orientation and abortion take the front seat in discussions and perspective in Christian life, I feel that people are spiritually stunted when all their discussions and perspective of faith are based on where they stand only in regard to these and other hot button topics. To develop greater roots of faith, Christians should, " As disciples of Christ..(followers) should be rooted in the teachings of Christ" (Samson, 66); instead of remaining content to debate and argue the hot topic of the week. The roots of faith are ones that need to be developed by greater understanding of Christ's life and how to follow his example and live it out in reality.

Samson challenges the reader to compare their own Christian experience to see Jesus' example of reaching out to those who are marginalized or excluded and realign their lives to his example. " The very uniqueness of Jesus is the refusal of exclusivity." (Samson, pg 70)

In his short ministry, Jesus also spent a great deal of time restoring, healing, and creating. Wouldn't it seem wise for those who follow Christ to be at work restoring, healing and and creating as well?

One of the most challenging statements Samson makes is his reporting that:
"Study after study shows that the average Christian in America is statistically indistinguishable fro someone from another faith, or of no faith. The culture seems to have an attitude of "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die," and we join in the party. But is this the posture for a follower of Jesus?" (Samson, pg 84)

In a world where Jesus healed, restored and created; wouldn't it seem logical that those who follow Jesus be involved in the same kind of activity?

How can we live?

My own questions and feeling of discontent with the status quo of my own consumption makes me desire to seek out a depth of living in my own life that I sometimes find missing. I have this need for roots that I can't find from another shopping trip to the mall or another pair of shoes to almost fit under my bed. In addition to my own desire for roots, I desire to help my own children in their search for life's center. I desire for them to also understand that contentment or happiness is something that can't be purchased.

The book Enough, does not stop at the point of pointing out the weak spots or the tendency to fill our lives with more and more material things. Samson takes the time to suggest some practical ways of living a life of fullness in Christ while on the earth. He suggests that practices of expressing thanks, getting our hands dirty by growing a garden and eating with each other will help to slow us down and develop some greatly needed roots to center our otherwise frantic lives. He continues to discuss the reality of developing greater responsibility for the earth, the economy, our communities and begin to foster daily prayer practices that help to show ways of living lives of faith that breathe restoration, healing and creativity to the world around us.

What if instead of consuming our world, we were consumed by the passion of Christ in a way that we would become deep wells of life that could satisfy all of those around us that are thirsty? Imagine if we were the wells of refreshment, the seasoning of salt, the lantern of light that God calls us as followers of Christ to be. When I think of that world, I think that would be a place where there would be enough resources to share - for everyone. Imagine a world with no more thirst or hunger. That world sounds like Earth as it is in Heaven. That, most certainly, would be enough.

This blog post is a response/review of the book Enough, by Will Samson. By participating with the Ooze Viral Bloggers Group, you can have the opportunity to read and review one free book a month. This is my first review with this blogging group. If you are interested in joining in go to The Ooze Viral Bloggers and register today.


Mel said...

Wow...good points to make.

I'm not one to look for the material to 'fix' anything. But I do know I have way more than 'enough'. *sigh* There are some cases when 'less is better'. More in my relationships and investment in being present for others and less in 'stuff'.

Lamont said...

For me I think this book has helped me take notice of the sneaky way things can try to wiggle into the crevices of need in my own life...this happens even for a bargain/clearance shopper like me if I'm not careful.

I don't want my life to be so cluttered as to miss the "investment in being present for others", like you said.

Great book to help sort and re-sort consumption/faith/relationships out.