I spent some time the last couple of weeks trying to clean my basement office/store room. It is the repository of all things no longer in use, and over time gets pretty cluttered.
Because I only keep a small bookcase in our living area, one of the things that grows, almost like fungi, are stacks and stacks of books.
Many of the books were just in boxes, so I cleared off some shelving and unpacked some of my most-loved books. However, there are piles of books that I will probably give away or throw away.
It is kind of interesting because each category of books represents a stage of my faith journey, and the decision about which books to get rid of symbolizes what I am holding onto and what I am letting go of.
Earlier, I mentioned the strategic intercession section of my library. I pulled those yesterday and paged through them, wondering if I would ever need them, or if I was throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
As I paged through them, I realized that they represent a stage of our corporate journey as the body, an unawareness that our lives should impact the area where we live. However, they fell short of understanding the missional revelation that the body is now awakening to.
It was interesting to see that with all of the talk about strategies, mapping, conquering, and winning our cities for God, there was very little mention of actual people and relationships. The city was a project, and everything was very detached from involvement in the lives of real, ordinary people.
Next there were skads of how-to-be-a-good-christian books. Everything that reeked of performance and obligation went into the garbage. Others were more neutral, just basic life principle sort of stuff. I wondered whether I should save them for some reason. At some point, I concluded that almost all of them could be reduced to “love God, love others.”
I think the abundance of self-help teaching is one reason we haven’t seen spiritual formation occur the way that it should in the church. On one hand, we have Bible study, which is often about knowledge and doctrine, and on the other hand we have pop psychology. Neither have addressed the formative practices needed for spiritual formation of the heart, not just the mind.
Anyway, as I continue to sort through the piles of unnecessary teaching in my mind, the storeroom becomes a little less cluttered.