I once read of a young man who designs and builds affordable and sustainable houses. His business started when he built his house with 80 square feet of living space. The house has a loft with enough room for a mattress, closet, dresser and ladder. The living area has one comfortable chair, a tiny kitchen as well as a small bathroom. An attractive front porch has space for two small chairs.
The key to living in such a house is that the owner has few possessions and every square inch is efficiently designed. When interviewed, the owner spoke enthusiastically about his newly discovered freedom found in owning very little. One might say that the owner matched his life style to his house and not his house to his life style.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus often spoke about lifestyle. In his sermon spoken on the mountain, he said that we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. When someone strikes us on the cheek, we are to offer the other cheek. When asked to give our shirt, we are to generously give our coat. In Jesus' kingdom, the poor, the meek and the grieving ones are blessed. The merciful will receive mercy. The pure in heart will see God and the peacemakers will be called children of God. Jesus even called us to pray for our enemies. After reading about the small house as well as the owner's new freedom, I asked myself, "Am I matching my lifestyle to the Gospel?"
Over two centuries ago a follower of Jesus Christ suggested that we can answer the question by considering three simple rules. This disciple rightly claimed that the rules are biblical and easily remembered. Let's see if you agree.
The first rule is "Do no harm." Jesus traveled all around Galilee without harming anyone. What would our community be like if we never spoke a harsh word or gave an obscene gesture to the other driver; if we were courteous to the clerks and shoppers in the stores we frequent; if we refused to gossip? We live in a wonderful community but if we did no harm there would be a major improvement in the quality of our lives.
The second rule is to "Do good." Every day Jesus went about helping others. Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, visited the lonely and stood up for those who were abused by religious institutions. Our call is to help others. The Bible encourages us to show hospitality to strangers because we may unknowingly be entertaining angels.
At our last Ministerial Association meeting, I was surprised to discover that Randolph County food programs are facing increased need and decreased donations. Let's give a few extra dollars to a food program and some very gently used clothing to a closet.
The third rule is to "Stay in love with God." The more time and attention we give to God the more our love for God will increase. Let's faithfully participate in worship and partake of the blessed sacraments. Let's be more involved in the fellowship of our congregations. Don't neglect to study the scriptures. Seek the advice and guidance of fellow Christians, and always encourage one another.
Does our lifestyle match Jesus' teachings?