The Amish are more on target than today’s church.
Whom have I in Heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
Love that Verse, but how does the author of that Psalm (Asaph) get there? I know my heart runs the gamut of things I desire on this earth.
Last week I visited an Amish market in La Plata, Missouri. It was a large farm with lots of kids playing, the men and boys out in the field (it was a work day for them), leaving the women and a wide age-range of girls milling about from the home to the barn to the market. Some teen girls in fact wandered into the market and picked up one of the music boxes for sale a couple aisles over from me. They played song after song, using it as accompaniment to their singing. The three of them went through several tunes — even Christmas carols without hesitation or threat of another person judging them.
All of them were barefoot and wore the same rich blue modest outfits. One of the young girls held onto a baby only a handful of months old, likely freeing up at least one of the mothers who I imagined was with several other women in the main house preparing that evening’s meal. They politely walked by, greeting us with a very distinctive Amish-German accent to their English.
It was a different world. No technology to speak of, just the basics — staples of life. Instead of a smartphone loaded with MP3s, they relied on a music box. I knew a little bit about them going in — that electricity and cars were off limits, but got curious about their lifestyle and what drove them to live this way, so simple…so different.
I think the Amish people have it 75% right and I think we have it only 25%.
I read up about the history of the Amish and my wife dug up even a deeper background. What we read so amazed me at their level of commitment to their faith — that it consumes their every facet of existence. Their dolls don’t have facial features, teaching the kids at an early age the importance of not having “idols” with the likeness of an image before them. They don’t have pictures of others for fear it might mimic an idolatrous tone, much less a boy band poster or Star Wars memorabilia. Their buggies are homogenized so status is minimized. The apparent lack of jewelry and makeup they feel helps keep attention from being drawn to them. Even at their funerals they don’t share the highlights of that person’s life for fear of elevating one person above another.
There’s plenty to parse and criticize about the Amish. For one, they isolate themselves when Jesus told us to go into the world to make disciples of all men. Yet, at the heart, they take their faith seriously and that’s hugely to be admired — even modeled. These are humans, so I’m sure that even though they’ve done everything to level the playing field and put God first, there’s still politics, heartbreak, and brokenness.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
—1 Peter 2:11
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
It really had me taking stock of how overwhelmingly we surround ourselves with every temptation and distraction and then wonder why our faith doesn’t feel vibrant. Truth is, if we’re honest, it’s not important to us. For the most part, today’s Church is part time — not fully committed. Not in love with God. We’ve become just as much like the world that we’re virtually indistinguishable. Perhaps the world doesn’t hate us as the Verse above says because we’re just like them.
1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.”
We’ve packed our days with activities and overstuffed our homes and garages with so many things of this world that it’s no wonder our Bibles gather dust. There’s no time left over for God. But, we’re not to find left over time for God anyhow, we’re to give Him the first fruits of our time. As it is, our televisions and Facebook see more of us than God ever does.
Hey my friend, I’m not pointing the finger at you. I’m looking at my own life and my own heart and seeing how very far I fall short.
What if we took our faith seriously and questioned all that is in our lives? Sadly, most of us won’t. It’s like when Jesus said to the rich young ruler in Mark 10, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” He couldn’t. He was in too far to let go. Are you? If we call ourselves Christian, then we follow Christ, not the THINGS of the world. Like the Amish, let’s put down the iPhone, reject the addiction to Facebook and the countless hours in front of the television. Let’s not have the pursuit of “things” always in the forefront of our mind, giving us constantly tiring goals to strive for — “things” that never truly satisfy and lead to more pursuits of endless stuff.
A couple Verses to consider:
Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. —Ecclesiastes 5:19
That tells me that it’s OK to have possessions and enjoy them. As Billy Graham once said, they just shouldn’t possess you.
Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.” —Luke 9:23
What if our homes looked more like an Amish person’s? The Amish at first glance seem like a total fringe people group. But, in God’s eyes, is their behavior fringe or is ours? What if we put the brakes on all (seriously…ALL) areas of our life and one by one bring them back online only after we questioned every facet in light of our faith. We’d look like freaks — Jesus freaks. But you know what, that opening Verse would make a whole lot more sense to all of us.