Did anyone watch the programme on Channel 4 where people agreed to have literally all their possessions taken away? Life Stripped Bare started out as an excuse to see young people running about naked, because even their clothes were taken away. But each day during the making of the film they could take back one of their possessions and one person said that, although at first it was really exciting every time she got something back, the excitement grew less every day until she found she didn’t really need anything else. At the end of the programme some of the people gave away half their possessions to charity. They also found they had a lot more time to concentrate on what really mattered most in their lives.
Who has taken the sort of holiday where the only thing you know is where you’re going, but not where you’re going to stay? Or who has been on the sort of holiday or business trip where you arrived but your luggage got lost? How did you cope?
I’m usually the sort of person who has to have everything organised before I go on holiday. But this year we hired a beat-up old camper van, lived on tinned tuna and pasta and went touring. And we had a great time. I’m not suggesting that our road trip was anything like the mission of Jesus’ 70 followers. We weren’t trying to make a difference to the places we visited, only to have a good time. But it proved to me that you can travel light and leave a ot of things to chance.
What's it like to face a new challenge? Who has moved to a new town or city at least once in their life? Has anyone moved to a new school and had to leave all your old friends behind?
When that happened to me, my father said, ‘You may be lonely at first, but this is you opportunity to reinvent yourself and be someone different. He was right on both counts!
If that’s not been one of your experiences, just ask yourself, ‘How many Friends do I have on Facebook?’
Recently my brother invited me to be his friend on Facebook and to my surprise I found that he had only 15 other friends. At first I thought he was a bit sad, but then I noticed one of the people who took part in Life Stripped Bare went from looking at her phone every few minutes to deleting her Facebook app. She said that she didn’t need it. She could always ring the people who were her real friends!
George Washington would have understood where she was coming from. He once said, ‘A true friendship is a plant which grows slowly. Before you can call it a real friendship it must stand the test of adversity. Try to get on with everyone,’ he advised, ‘But only be close friends with some people and put them through their paces before you give them your trust.’
When he sent them out, I think Jesus was reminding his followers that living simply, living on the edge in fact, accepting new challenges, making new friends and going to new places, is a way to reassess our lives, to focus on what really matters and to concentrate on making a real difference. His followers went out on their journey stripped bare of most of the things they usually took for granted, and they came back excited and full of enthusiasm.
We don’t have to leave behind all our possessions, or go trekking or seek out new friends and new places in order to refocus our lives, but it certainly helps. If you prefer to stay at home, though, you can still join in the adventure. We can all look out, every day, for new ways of living life to the full, new opportunities for making life better and having new and richer experiences, and for new ways of helping other people and serving God.