Last Saturday, I opened our garage door and there it was. Not one pile of clutter but a whole room full! I spent part of the afternoon dealing with the clutter that had been hidden by a closed garage door.
For the last several years, I have been doing much of what David Allen suggests in Getting Things Done. I've read the book a couple of times and as a result, I probably do a better job of dealing with some of the clutter in my life. (At least on one level). Yet, there is a kind of clutter this book really doesn't deal with.
Churches often have so much clutter. No, I'm not referring to the unspoken rule that exists in many churches. That unspoken rule is, "Don't throw anything away." Consequently, you may look around your church building and find the last seven vacuum cleaners that the church used. Or, you may find electronic equipment going back to the 1950's. Let me assure you: I'm not making this stuff up! Churches tend to keep junk--forever.
No, churches often have a kind of clutter that is more serious. We collect traditions, concerns, practices, etc. that may have little or nothing to do with the essence of what it means to be a Christ-follower or a community of faith. At some point, however, the "clutter" takes on a life of its own. The result? Lots of people get weighed down and worn out by the energy being given to this clutter. It is sort of like having a cluttered desk. You forget where you put the important things. Instead, you have stacks of unread books, articles torn out from magazines, and some-body's "forward" off the Internet. Sometimes, I fear we even lose Jesus in the middle of this church clutter.
Those of us who live in the middle of church clutter (and I'm not referring to old vacuum cleaners at this point) often don't get this. We can't understand the discontent people feel with the endless discussions about matters which really have nothing to do with Jesus or the apostle's teaching. Some of the matters that occupy us have simply been picked out of the clutter.
We need to get back to the essence of what it means to live as a Christ-follower. What does it mean to live in a community of faith? What does it mean to experience the life of Jesus as offered by the Father through the Spirit? What does it mean to have kingdom priorities? How do we keep our lives centered in the mission of God? These are critical questions that have nothing to do with much of the clutter that occupies us and drains us of energy and hope.
Perhaps a place to begin is with our lives as individual Christ-followers. Maybe I need to first look at the "clutter" in my own heart. Does this make sense? After awhile, what is important kind of gets lost in my own busyness. So, here is a place to begin. Let me invite you to "ponder" this prayer that I read recently:
Lord, help me now to unclutter my life.
to organize myself in the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart;
teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
Lord, I give You these stirrings inside me,
I give you my discontent,
I give you my restlessness,
i give you my doubt,
I give you my despair,
I give you all the longings I hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth;
to listen seriously and follow where they lead
through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.
(From Celtic Daily Prayer, pp. 220-221).