“Without the infinite personal God, all a person can do, as Nietzsche points out, is to make systems. In today's speech we would call them gameplans. A person can erect some sort of structure, some type of limited frame in which he lives, shutting himself up in that frame and not looking beyond it.”
My wife loves the show “Hoarders”. We often watch it together. The show follows the journey of uncluttering extreme hoarder homes. It follows a simple formula, each episode is similar… with only the hoarding person and their family that change episode to episode.
Each featured house is virtually unliveable… to a point where even walking in is difficult with an uneven path to their bed or living area, which is often just a pile of garbage. The hoard itself is mostly common items, usually not much of value. If something is valuable it is lost in the hoard and often damaged beyond anything that can be resold.
I occasionally open up the Reddit App in my phone because I see a lot of unfiltered unedited comments and questions there. Reddit is kind of the raw side of culture. It is at times dangerous and unfiltered… and sometimes honestly silly. It is the extreme of almost every view point.
Recently I read several questions and responses in the Christian subreddit community that made me think about spiritual hoarding. The questions people were asking were mostly about surface or exterior level Church ideologies… They often seemed to start with “Is it wrong?”. There seems to be a lot of confusion in both Christian and non-Christian circles about what is wrong and what is right for a Christian.
Now… desiring to do good is… GOOD… the heart devoted to Christ will grow in a desire to do good. What seems to happen all to often however is that that desire gets tripped into overdrive by some false teaching… and we ADD to what is really required until we are - as a Church… unliveable, dangerous, smelly and ready to be condemned, much like the hoarder homes on the TV but in a spiritual sense.
These “common” things the Church values are at times mere clutter… these are little rules and regulations - traditions, sometimes dogma… we begin to elevate their importance… even collect them and add more such rules and traditions… most of which in and of themselves are not bad… but because we have hoarded so many "additions" these less valuable things move into a focal point position and now the pile of “common” items takes the attention away - perhaps even damages the effectiveness and usability of those things that actually have real value. In essence the valuable is crushed by the common... and the hoard has created conditions that have destroyed both the less valuable and the truly valuable!
In the Church, the message of the cross… salvation by grace becomes lost in an overwhelming pile of garbage laws and church dogma that does nothing to draw the unbeliever to repentance of real sin. The believer could as well, like many a hoarder from the hit TV show say of the cross of Christ... “There is an extremely valuable old rugged cross in there somewhere”…
I think of how I grew up… I had many questions as a young teen… don’t laugh to hard as you read some of them. My point is that when the church gets lost in dogma it clutters the message and confuses the young believer and those who might be looking for the good news of the gospel.
Is it wrong to wear shorts?
Is it wrong to own a motorcycle?
Is it wrong to work Sunday? What is work defined as?
Is it wrong for a woman not to wear a head covering?
Is it wrong to wear jewelry?
Is it wrong to get a tattoo?
Is it wrong to occasionally have a drink of alcohol?
Is it wrong to wear jeans to church?
There are many rules I had been taught through the Church that created confusion in my life.
I had many other questions. My peers had similar questions… notice a common theme here? Each one starts with “is it wrong”. Each is a question related to defining a clear boundary of external behaviour beyond the simplicity of the gospel and of Christs teachings. Each question is an attempt by the believer or unbeliever to determine if they can do something they want to do... or to cast judgement on something someone else is doing.
It is clutter… to the world it looks like a smelly pile of garbage in a home that appears to be ready to be torn down and rebuilt. Jesus however sees beyond that clutter… somewhere underneath that pile of useless rules and dogma is the bride of Christ.
Gen Z... they are asking questions of the older generation... they are hard questions. Some Church leaders are crushing the questions... some are ignoring them, some are deflecting them, some are simply giving in and discarding the valuable with the not so valuable parts of faith. This is called throwing the baby out with the bath water.
I believe God is behind it all... the questions... the tensions! There is of course a discomfort that occurs as young adults challenge our attraction to the hoard. God can work through the hurt. These questions can drive us deeper into faith... so we can discover together what is valuable... and what is garbage!
Will the Church listen? Will they recognize their hoard and come back to the foundational truths of the good news of the Gospel? Will those who have used gaslighting and manipulation to hold onto their hoard of man made laws realize that their love of their garbage has hidden the Cross of Christ?
I don’t believe the Church needs to be torn down… but I do believe it needs to be de-cluttered - perhaps better said - disentangled. We need a renovation of repentance from dead works to draw our attention back to the pure gospel… freed from the past, freed from our desire for useless treasures and again a place to gather and build real community.
Each Hoarder episode comes to the aha moment when the hoarder realizes they have placed importance on “worthless things” versus the "valuable". That moment is where the hoarder comes to a place of redemption and repentance… the time they repent and turn around… they then begin to lead the fight to declutter... to focus on what is important!
That is my prayer for the North American Church! An awakening… a turning away from idol worship of dogma and mere men. My prayer is that we stop evangelizing people to attach our own man made dogma to and to evangelize them to a fully devoted relationship with the Living Christ! Our "stuff" isn't going to make better people... Jesus however will!
We do not need one more legalistic, pious, judgemental, angry, political Christian… nor do we need one more , milk toast spineless Christian who rubber stamps cultures latest virtue signal… What we need is a revolution of Christian’s passionately seeking Jesus - following HIS words and his teachings… actively and as a lifestyle weighing the eternal value of our beliefs.
If we don’t believe or live according to any other part of the Bible… Jesus Sermon on the Mount is sufficient to start a foundation with - and the Spirit of Christ will lead us into more truth.
This ONE sermon - IF we lived accordingly would elevate and revolutionize the Christian faith…
We need to stop putting words into Jesus mouth he did not teach… He can speak for himself:
Check it out... starting in Matthew 5 and through to chapter 7... then let's ask Jesus what He wants us to clean up and consider valuable.
Let's be the change!