Starting on August 1st, I will be beginning a journey called “The 7 Experiment” (or 7 for short). 7 is a seven month journey that is focused on staging a mutiny against excess—and as Americans we know about excess all too well (hundreds of articles of clothing in multiple closets, refrigerators cram packed with food that spoils before we can eat it, laptops and cellphones and PlayStations and iPods and Kindles galore. Yeah. I’d say we’ve got it bad.). But the thing is, I’d never really thought much about all those things before I read 7. I would’ve classified myself as a middle-class American working on my college degree so that one day I could pursue my own American Dream with my strong, handsome husband, 3 kids and a lapdog. That’s God’s WILL for my life, okay? Oh and in the little spare time that I probably won’t have, I’d like to play a part in advancing the Kingdom of God as well.
Okay so maybe I wasn’t THAT bad. But as American Christians, I think that line of thinking is all too common. It’s not that we necessarily MEAN to. We’re just indoctrinated into this machine of consumerism and excess. It’s, well, AMERICAN to look forward to the next big promotion, the next pay raise, the bigger house, the better car. But recently I’ve found this little voice in the back of my head whispering, “Isn’t there something more than this? IS more always better? What if I’m missing something?”
For New Testament class this past semester, we had to reread the entire New Testament (shocker). But with a grace that only God can give, He allowed me to read it with fresh eyes—like I’d never read it before. And I was struck by the person of Jesus Christ all over again. Who was this man? He completely went against the grain. Want to be first? You must be last. Want to gain your life? Lose it. Want to follow Me? Give up everything. Phrases like, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven” and “the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” kept floating around in my brain—and wouldn’t go away. I started wondering anew, “What should my life look like as an American Christian in the 21st century?”
Insert "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker. This is the book that really got me thinking. Jen felt trapped in the machine of excess and was determined to do something about it. She records her journey doing a seven month fast, downsizing her life in order to reach “the least of these” that Jesus called us to serve. When I first heard about the book, I can’t lie—I thought it sounded pretty radical. I didn’t know if I’d be into that kind of thing or not. But, I picked it up at Books A Million, regardless (I can’t resist a good book. Ever.). Little did I know what I was getting myself into.
Jen Hatmaker felt convicted about the way that she and her husband, a wealthy pastor of a mega-church at the time, were living as American Christians. Convinced that they were only “serving the saved” and “blessing the blessed,” she set out on a social experiment to reduce the areas in her life that she lived in excess in order to serve the needy. She asks, “So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends a social experiment to become a radically better existence.”
Although I’d like to insert the entire book here for you to read, I can’t because that’d be plagiarism (who came up with that law, anyway?). So, I HIGHLY suggest that you go to LifeWay or Books A Million or Barnes and Noble or Davis Kidd or your local neighborhood bookstore and pick it up. I cannot stress how absolutely awesome it is (and FUNNY, too—Jen Hatmaker was blessed with the spiritual gift of hilariousness. Love, joy, peace, patientce, kindness, hilariousness… whatever. I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.).
In the meantime, I’ll be staging my own mutiny against excess with a few other ladies that God has so graciously placed in my life, and I’ll be blogging about it here! I’m hoping and praying that God will teach me how to live for and serve Him here in America, right where I’m planted. And that maybe He will speak to others through the lessons that He is teaching me as well!
“Simplified life. Amplified God.”