There is a Japanese woman who has found success in the “art of tidying up.” She goes into people’s cluttered homes and helps them clean up. Part of her method involves putting all of a certain item (clothes, books, utensils, etc.) into a pile, and then getting rid of the things that are not really necessary. People are usually shocked by the amount of junk they have when it is all in one unsightly heap. Her metric for determining what to keep or get rid of is whether or not an item “sparks joy.” It got me thinking about the idea of “tidying up” from a spiritual perspective.
I think we can look at our lives as individuals and as a church family in the same way. It is a healthy practice to evaluate all that is in our lives. As Christians, our criteria for whether we keep or get rid of things should be the Bible. Now granted, God’s Word is not specific on everything that may fill our 21st century life, but there are guiding principles we can and should use to set our priorities. We should be willing to pile up everything in our life, examine each item in light of God’s Word and will, and be willing to part with anything that doesn’t line up.
The same is true for a church. We as a church family should be willing to pile up everything we have and do, examine it, hold it up to the truth of God’s Word, and evaluate whether or not to keep it or lose it. In other words, nothing needs to be “off the table” when it comes to our devotion to Christ and His mission. That’s tough. We all have things that are near and dear to us. If we’re honest, most of us have “sacred cows,” things that are not necessarily commanded in Scripture but that we do not want to part with. But in the same way the people with the cleanest homes tend to be the most relentless in their elimination of clutter, likewise the people and churches who are most devoted in their mission for Christ are relentless in their elimination of things that do not best glorify God.
As the author of Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”