The good life does not mean getting more but means letting go. True spirituality has more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. This is the teaching of Jesus, His Apostles and Church, and all saints throughout the ages. It’s only in modern Christianity that prosperity, gain, and success have been made part of the gospel. It’s the poor that are blessed while it’s almost impossible for the rich to enter the Kingdom. How has the Christian life and its teachings gotten so messed up?[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
Here is a powerful truth that can change your life…
All great spirituality is about letting go. Instead we have made it be about taking in, attaining, performing, winning, and succeeding. Spirituality has become a show we perform for ourselves, which God does not need. True spirituality mirrors the paradox of life itself. It trains us in both detachment and attachment, detachment from the passing so we can attach to the substantial. But if you do not acquire good training in detachment, you may attach to all the wrong things, especially your own self-image and its desire for security. Self-interest becomes very well disguised, often passing for religion. Richard Rohr in Adam’s Return, p. 5
God let go. He let go of His heavenly position, took on flesh, coming to earth to live and die and live again. St. Paul writes about His self-emptying in Philippians 2 – “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing [a prize] to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Jesus Christ did not hold tight to all the glories of heaven but released them emptying himself to take on the nature of a human being.
You and I are to have this same mindset – letting go of everything deemed significant, becoming nothing, so we might become truly human in Christ.
Bible Examples of Detachment
Every godly Bible character and every saint has lived a life of detachment. They willingly gave up family, lands, possessions, wealth, ideas about God, friends, country, and even physical life to gain what God willed for them.
- Moses let go of an excuse – “I cannot speak” – to do God’s bidding.
- Abraham let go of his native land to go to a country he did not know but God did.
- Ruth let go of her Moabite culture and followed Naomi to new life in Bethlehem, marriage to Boaz, and motherhood to the grandfather of King David.
- Mary willingly became the fleshly home of God, devoting every fiber of her being to the Son of God.
- All the Apostles let go of their vocations and families to follow Jesus.
- Peter let go of his understanding of Christ’s crucifixion and of a Jews-only gospel.
The examples are endless. The core activity in our relationship with God is letting go.
God or Me?
Does God detach stuff from you or do you do it? Like all of the Christian life, it is a synergistic, cooperative effort between God and you. Apart from Christ, you can do nothing especially when it comes to ridding yourself of your attachments.
In our church youth group in the late 60’s, with all the sincerity a 13-year-old could muster, I’d sing these words…
And I walked earth’s highways, grieving.
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
“Lift your empty hands to Me!”
So I held my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more.
And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full!
It is true that fingers clenched around our obsessions, addictions, and attachments prevent God from filling us with His treasures. However, we must open our hands. He does not force those attachments from us without our cooperation. We’re in this emptying process together. That’s what makes detachment even possible. He invites and enables us to empty our hands before He invites us to lift them to Him.
New Year’s Resolutions in the Light – Detachment
Why not apply these ideas to your New Year’s resolutions as you approach 2018? What attachment might God be asking you to detach from this year?
Here are some areas to consider…
- Certain theological ideas
- Divisive political views
- Crusty Attitudes
- Unrealistic dreams for yourself or someone you love
- Unwarranted opinions about people and ideas
- Harmful behaviors and habits
- Subtle love of money or wealth
- Need for recognition
- Demand to control and/or to manipulate people or events
- Toxic emotions like anger, anxiety or fear
A unique detachment takes the form of forgiveness. Forgiveness means letting go of the desire for payback, justice, revenge, or punishment. According to Dr. R.T. Kendall, author and pastor, a key component of forgiveness is releasing the bitterness in your heart concerning what a person has done to you (Total Forgiveness, p. 8). Forgiveness is about letting go.
It is heartbreaking when a Christian stubbornly holds on to beliefs, habits, opinions, wealth or possessions, and feelings unwilling even to consider the harmful spiritual effects these attachments have on their own life and their relationship with God.
Though not a one of us is exempt from attachments, we fear letting them go.
The challenge is to take time now to evaluate and begin cutting yourself free of harmful attachments.
2018 Detach – Attach: A Personal Challenge
For me, it’s sugar. I’m addicted to sugar. I have a visceral attachment to sugar that makes candy, sugared cereal, sodas, and cookies almost irresistible. This is not primarily a health issue but a spiritual one. I want to see if I can experience God’s grace and power in the midst of my addiction to sugar so that the result is self-control, a fruit of the Spirit. Detach from sugar; attach to self-control. Seems small and simple, huh?!? I don’t think so.
Due to writing this post, I’ve already started detaching from sugar. Good grief! As I walk through the grocery store, every sugary item shouts at me: “Buy me!” “Eat me!” “I’m so delicious!” Leave it to me to start doing this right at Christmas time. Sometimes I wonder if I’m insane.
“Let sugar go by the grace of God” is my 2018 “mantra.” Please pray for me as I go through withdrawal.
What will you “let go” in 2018?
If you are concerned about your relationship with God this coming year, there will be something He’ll invite you to release. Cooperate with Him. Face your fear of letting go. Find His grace sufficient. Experience a result that makes you more like Jesus.
Share below what you’ll detach from this coming year. If you do, I commit to pray for you and your struggle to detach.