Throw away religious clutter

I love my little house. It’s small, but it’s the perfect place for me, four teens, two dogs, and two cats to shake off the heaviness of the world, relax, and do life together. We all agree that it’s our safe space, our place to relax and be real.

With so many bodies in such a cozy space, we have to be pretty deliberate about what we keep and what we pass along. I share a closet with my daughter, and if we try to keep the clothes that are the wrong size, the stuffed animals that nobody plays with any more, and the outfits we never wear, we don’t have room for the things we use. 

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I’ve never really been a packrat, but I still find that I have a lot of unnecessary items I could get rid of and never miss. I mean, do I really need a raclette for melting cheese? Do we have to have seventeen winter blankets when there are only five people in the house? How many of the board games filling the hall closet do we actually play? 

If I were to give away everything except what we’ve used in the last two years, we’d have a lot more space in our home. And yet we tend to hold on to everything “just in case”.

What if I suddenly have a fancy dinner and we need cheese that’s been gently melted by tea lights? What if there’s a blizzard and the power goes out for a week, and we can only keep from freezing by huddling under blankets? What if the only thing that keeps us from losing our sanity during that power outage is playing board games 24/7 under our blankets? 

Do all these things enrich our lives, when it’s all said and done? Do we find that less free space and more clutter comforts us and fosters closer relationships with the people we love?

For myself, I know that too many things can actually have the opposite effect: I spend more time cleaning up, tidying, and fussing at teens to put their belongings away, and I have less time to just enjoy them, and then I’m in no frame of mind to spend quality time with God.

In Mosaic law, there were over 600 rules the Jews were required to follow. The Pharisees and Sadducees added many more addendums, to the point that it was nearly impossible for anyone to know them all, let alone follow them. Jesus addressed this situation by inviting people to leave that heavy burden of the law behind and follow Him because His yoke is easy and the burden light.

We can’t keep an uncluttered home while still clinging to all the extraneous things that fill up our closets and rooms, and we can’t run an effective spiritual race while dragging excess baggage along. Let’s not overcomplicate our walk with God. We’ll have more room in our lives for the things that matter when we leave the “religious clutter” behind and simply focus on the Lord.

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