Discipleship

The Lent Project Week 5: The Commuter/Environmental Fast

If everyone on Earth lived, drove, ate, consumed, etc. like the average American, studies show it would take about four planets to sustain the world's population. How do our personal and cultural habits reflect the invitation to serve as good stewards of God's creation? 20150218_the_lent_project_banner

During this week, we invite you to:

(1) Make decisions to reduce your gasoline consumption by half (choose public transit, casual carpool, walk/bike, tele-commute, etc.).

(2) Consider what you notice about your regular commuting habits, your neighborhood's built environment, transit infrastructure, etc.

(3) Catalog your journey using #TheLentProject hashtag.

You are God's Currency (by Chris Schwass)

In response to the last few weeks of teachings at Open Door, Chris Schwass shared these thoughts and we wanted to share them with you all! Dive in and engage these thoughts! 20150104_coin_banner

We are God's currency Matthew 22:15-22

Matt 22:20-21: "Whose image is this? And whose inscription?"..."So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."

Coins are imprinted in Caesar's image, so they belong to Caesar. Jesus says to give them back if Caesar asks. But what belongs to God? The ten percent tithe that he requires?

Humanity is made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), so we belong to God. We are His currency. He mints us in His image, sends us into circulation in His economy, and calls us to return. We carry His intrinsic value.

In Caesar's economy, scarcity rules. The more I can accumulate and isolate/guard my coins, the more they are worth. The less everyone else has, the more what I have is worth. The value of my coins rests on the worth of Caesar's economy and the scarcity of how his worth is divided. If Caesar falls, my coins may be worthless. If a robber comes, my coins may be gone. The value I carry is extrinsic.

In God's economy, abundance rules. What I accumulate means nothing, because I carry God's worth. Matthew 6:19-34 reminds me to store up my treasures in Heaven, not on Earth, and not worry about what I eat, drink, or wear.

In God's economy, isolating or guarding my wealth - in essence not giving myself away, limits the value of God's investment. Perhaps the talent buried in the ground is myself - the very currency of great worth God created to be used.

In God's economy, I can have more and you can have more. God always has enough. In fact, it is in giving away that God multiplies resources. The widow has enough to eat after giving her last meal to Elijah. 5000 people have enough when Jesus' disciples give away the last of the food. The faith community in Acts has enough when everyone shares their resources.

God's economy rests on the awesome power of God. His kingdom will never pass away, so our value as His currency will never diminish. No one can steal our value or separate us from the love if God. Our value is intrinsic.

God's economy is living Matthew 22:23-33

Matt 22:23 "'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' He is not the God of the dead but of the living." Caesar's image is on an inanimate coin, a lump of metal. His coins don't create more coins. God's image is on living things, who - through His power - make other living things. God's currency multiplies.

This is the natural order, the way God built the world to operate when He commanded, "Be fruitful and multiply." When Jesus feeds 5000 with a few fish and loaves, he demonstrates how God always expands His living economy: making more fish from generations of fish, wheat from generations of wheat, always more than enough. He makes life from life: miracle and everyday. That has been God's natural way since life began.

Man uses a non-living currency we can control to transfer value. That creates scarcity and isolation because it is limited. God multiplies resources, humans divide them. Our act of submission to God's economy is to multiply resources by bringing them together rather than separating them, so each person has more than enough.

Jesus bridges the gap, making more fish from dead fish, as a man and as God. In faith, we lean into God's infinite provision and let go of our store.

It's a Battle

God wants us to operate as His currency, while Satan wants us to doubt our value and isolate our worth in fear. It's about more than money moving around. Satan uses illness, pain, fear, obligation, pride, and a host of other tricks to keep us apart, to stifle God's economy.

When we lean into God's economy and move into circulation, we will experience new freedom (through God) and new friction (through Satan). Satan would love for more coins to be lost, but Jesus is seeking out every lost coin to add to the treasury.

It is our obligation to enter in, to listen to God, and accept the great value that He has imprinted on us with His image. He is love, and we are called to transfer and multiply His love in the world. It will not always be easy, but it will always be good.

What do you think? What does it look like to live as God's currency? What kind of investment might God be asking of you?

Coin: Jesus on Money (Series Introduction)

Money is deeply-engrained in the fabric of our world. Global markets wield incredible control over our local economies and the cash in our pocket (or lack thereof) is often a primary cause of our stress and worry. Whether we have it or not, money shapes our lives, our relationships, and the environments around us. Is it a necessary evil or an opportunity for good? A tool or a vice? At Open Door we're seeking to walk in the way of Jesus and and pursue cultivation and formation of our whole self, including our finances! Jesus talks about money all the time not because it’s “good” or “bad” but because it's a window into deeper things.

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Through the beginning of Lent, we'll be engaging in a series called Coin: Jesus on Money. Throughout Coin, we'll dig into the teachings of Jesus on money, and experiment, dialogue, learn and grow together towards an integrated way forward with our money as we seek to walk in the way of Jesus together.

We'll have a few special opportunities to learn and practice together throughout the series. On January 18, Mark Scandrette from San Francisco's ReIMAGINE will be with us and in late January we'll launch two separate circles using Mark's book FREE to think about the alignment of our money and values (if you don't have a copy of Mark's book, it will be available at a discount on Jan 18 directly from Mark!).

As we begin this series, we'd love to hear your thoughts and questions below!

  • What stirs your imagination about the possibilities of following Jesus with your money?
  • What are the biggest stressors caused by money?
  • What kind of communal practices involving our finances can help us better walk in the way of Jesus?

An ODC Story: Anthony Machi on our Comfort Fast

As a part of our Lent Project, we invited our community to set aside either their beds or hot showers for the week in an effort to both create unique space for the Spirit of Jesus to rise up in our lives as well as to stand in solidarity with majority world.  Anthony and Paulina experienced the Comfort Fast from within the Dominican Republic.  Here is Anthony's reflection... Two weeks ago, Paulina and I took off for the Dominican Republic leading a group of 23 college students & young working professionals from U.C. Berkeley, UCLA, U.C. Santa Barbara, U.C. Davis, San Jose State, and St. Marys. The trip included an active marine, a youth pastor, youth coaches and trainers, and many students smack in the middle of their college experience.

The choice during this week of comfort fast: was to give up the bed, or to give up hot showers. I chose to give up hot showers: there was no hot water where we landed.

Our team visited the orphanage under the care of the worldwide organization Kid’s Alive, in Monte Plata in the Dominican Republic. Here were the main limitations (“strippings”) in the scene we entered in to: Running water is limited & rationed based on a pump system that takes the water out of a nearby river.

We had electricity for 3 to 4 hours every day: usually 7:30pm to 11pm. (by generator) Only showers available were cold showers from a drip system from the water reserve. We had twin bunk beds in open cabins with screen walls and bug nets around our bed, 10 people to a room.

No cell phone service + No media availability. Our first van ride = 30 people in a 20 passenger van & 2300 lbs of donations for the kids (Dominican style = cramped & cozy). Average amount of mosquito bites on our bodies by day three: 40 to 50 (with bug spray).

For me personally, I have grown up for most, if not all, of my life as an introverted young man, with most of my time spent as individual-time on the golf course, with my own room to go home to, quiet when I wanted it, privacy when I wanted it, a hot shower when I wanted it, and a good sandwich when I wanted it. For this winter and spring I have been sharing a room in a house of 10 men. And this trip to the Dominican was trip #2 of 3 week-long service trips in a matter of 6 weeks for Paulina and I this Spring (each leading 15 - 23 college students).

Here is where Jesus is getting my attention: For me, for whatever reason, comfort is not the end that I most struggle with. Comfort, for me, has served as the means to… here’s the key… perform. This, for much of my life, took the form of performance in athletics and academics. But my performance was ultimately a means to: try to earn the approval of others, for them to see me as a person worthy of acceptance and praise.

All the bullet points of limitations for this week in the Dominican combined with this season of living, contributed to a culmination of the stripping of my most prized comfort: my ‘own’ space.

Here’s what I watched Jesus do in me this past week:

Disruption to comfort => Disruption to my own spiritual “performance” => Revealing of the true me to those around me.

God has been breaking, and broke the cycle of comfort => performance => approval. Only through this fast of comfort was I then even able to see this equation clearly. The “equation” was broken down to disruption of comfort => not able to perform => worship Him. In this process He has pointed me to the river of life which involves no equation, but rather stands as one word, short, and very tall, Jesus. In stripping the comfort He revealed the worship of the approval of others (a false god) which my comfort was a slave to. He revealed me sitting in the middle of ocean dying of thirst, as this pursuit has never been satisfied.

It took experiencing deep feelings of claustrophobia for weeks, culminating in me having to stop an entire van of 23 on the way to church one day in the DR, for me to get out and walk.

Symbolically, the claustrophobia brought me to start walking.

And so after years and years of tried convincing that the answer was “back to my room to recharge, listen to that next song, just put on the right inspirational video, so I could clean myself up and ‘head back out there to the world’ to perform...” it was the never-ending search of the approval of others… He showed me:

He has been there the whole time…longing for me to stop dying of thirst… so I turned to Him.

No need to exit to re-enter. I’m in. Thank You Jesus.

In Him, He brings quiet, rest, and comfort in love: In the cold shower, in the top bunk bed... in the hot shower, and in the queen size bed back home.

My alone time with God is a beautiful gift, the approval & acceptance of others is a gift, a hot shower is a gift, a good meal is a gift, the ability to worship is a gift. All of these good and perfect gifts coming from our Father of lights.