Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The lost house of me

“We find that, more and more nowadays, people say to us that life is too individualistic, that their life is too materialistic, that there’s consumerism everywhere and that they’ve got more superficial pleasures in life and yet at a deeper level they are not happy.” Those are the words with which Abbot Christopher Jamison began each episode of the television series The Monastery, a fly on the wall documentary which followed a dozen men around as they spent 40 days in silence, prayer and contemplation at Worth Abbey.

Looking at that description of life in modern Britain today it is easy, as a Christian, to apply it to the many men and women who have no real discernible belief in the good news of Jesus Christ. As a preacher I have used similar words in many sermons outlining people's need to discover their joy and happinness in Christ. But reading them now in the "cold light of day", so to speak, the scary thing is that the Abbot's words actually hit much, much closer to home and apply to me, and I suspect, to large sections of the Christian Church.

How materialistic am I? Looking around my house as I prepare to move I note just how much 'stuff' I have accumulated over the years in books, dvds, cds, gadgets, etc.. And am I really immune from the consumerism that gives shape to our western society and which promises Nirvana when we buy that car or that 3D television? How superficial is my faith? If I am honest, when I move the camera closer and take a deeper look at the real state of my heart, what I see are layers and layers of pretence, falsehood and a rather polished 'Christian' gloss covering the corruption beneath. And am I really happy or does my happiness wax and wane depending on external factors like money, good days and fine weather?

Abbot Jamison has put his finger on a lot more than the ills of society. He has poked me in the chest too and I see that unless, and until, I apply them to me first, then my ministry - let alone my Christian walk - is going to remain crucially flawed. Before ever I say a word or offer an opinion I will already have been disqualified. Jesus once said that he came first for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). What about the lost house of the Church? What about the lost house of me?

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