I love the public library. I really do. Our tax dollars at work...I think. One of the amazing things about the library (at least mine) is the selection of music they have on hand. Just this week I picked up some Laura Marling and Frightened Rabbit and have been enjoying both greatly.
Then the thought sets in: I could just rip this to my iTunes and have it.
Yes, it's a crime and yes I know that. Yes it is a resource I've "paid" for with my tax dollars, but still...come on. Who'll say anything?
I have to ask myself, whom I consider to be an ethically upright Christ-follower why this didn't set off alarms like crazy in my heart and mind. Really, can I justify what amounts to theft? How does this reconcile with the most basic commandments of God not to take what is not yours. Even my first grader understands this.
I think there is a deeper spiritual root to this question, and it is very simple: we live under a very heavy compulsion to own. To possess. To call something ours.
Along with this compulsion is the idea that if I don't own it, how can I enjoy it?
This is why generations of folks can't understand renting a house for the rest of your life. The goal was always to own your own, right?
There is so much in our lives that would be radically transformed if we learned the spiritual discipline of borrowing. The discipline that says we can live and enjoy things in this world without owning them, because it teaches us stewardship rather than ownership.
Maybe you think I'm begging the question, but honestly how would our lives change if we started to enjoy the loose grip lifestyle of borrowing?
Instead of buying that new book, find a library and borrow it.
Instead of downloading new music, borrow it from a friend or a public library.
Instead of buying that new tool or piece of equipment, rent it or borrow it from a friend.
There isn't a law for this, and Jesus is not going to be unhappy if you own stuff, but if we want to train ourselves to be the kind of people who are "free indeed" from debt and stuff then we can harness the discipline of borrowing and learn to live without ownership.
Because deep down, ownership means control. Status. Prestige. When those things get out of order, we end up displacing God and replacing Him with our own power to own.
So today, consider this:
1. Make a list of the top 10 things you have been thinking about buying.
2. Brainstorm about where you could borrow those items from rather than owning them.
3. While you're at it, consider the things you already own that you don't need. Eliminating clutter makes this process much easier.
4. Pray about your desire to own and ask God to reveal ways that it has kept you from being the kind of person who can do what Jesus asks.
Engaging in the discipline of borrowing will teach us new things about our own drive to own, our relationship to others, and our relationship to God.