Everything Must Go: To Gain Everything

Posted: June 10, 2013 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Comedy, Drama
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everything must goFrom Saturday Night Live to Anchorman to Talladega Nights  to a lot of pretty silly movies in between, I have always been a big fan of Will Ferrell.  If you are used to just his dim-witted comedic side, you may be surprised at how well he pulls off a dramatic role (like in Stranger than Fiction).    As you can probably guess from the movie poster, Everything Must Go takes on a pretty serious issue, even if he makes you laugh once in a while.

Everything Must Go tells the story of Nick, a long-time alcoholic, who loses his job and his marriage on the same day.  Actually, on the way home after he’s just been fired, he drives up to see absolutely all of his belongings on his front lawn.  His wife has moved out and changed the locks so that he can’t even get in his house.  So, in a fog, Nick just takes residence on his front lawn, spending his day drinking and looking through his stuff.  His friend and AA sponsor, who is also a cop, tells him to at least pretend he’s having a lawn sale which will buy him three days before he has to leave the premises.

Even though Nick loses  his job, his company car, his home, and his marriage, he won’t let go of two things: His drinking and his earthly possessions.  Through a series of events including an old high school friend, a new neighbor, and a boy down the street (I won’t spoil it for you), Nick finally gives up those things that have controlled him.  His worldly possessions are really just a symbol of his old, useless, self-indulgent alcoholic life.  So to give up these things in a yard sale would really mean a changed life.  No treatment center or psychotherapy has helped in the past.  Nick was now truly “at bottom”–but even then it was extremely difficult to admit that EVERYTHING had to go!

While a lot of very typical things are said about alcoholism and its consequences in Everything Must Go, the film really made me think of the story of the rich young ruler.  Here’s an excerpt from Mark 10.

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Instead of being some sort of monastic charge for all Christians to get rid of their worldly possessions, Jesus is really teaching that the idols of our hearts stand between us and eternal life with Him.  The rich young ruler wrongly believed that salvation was found in obeying the commandments rather than in a relationship with Christ.  He didn’t recognize that his own possessions were what he worshiped the most, so that’s why EVERYTHING MUST GO, according to Jesus.  This man would only follow Jesus if he put to death the worship of his great wealth.

The reality for all human beings is that everything that stands between us and Jesus must go.  Our sins stand between us, so we need Jesus to die for our sins.  Our idols stand between us, so we the Holy Spirit to enable us to let go of those too.  Ultimately, our entire SELVES stand in the way of a true relationship with Christ so WE must go too (deny self, take up the cross, and follow Him!).  Everything must go so we may gain everything that matters.

Consider the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:8…

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

You may never have a yard sale to get rid of all your worldly possessions or need to lose it all in order to turn from severe alcohol or drug addiction.  But you and I do need to count everything as LOSS in order to GAIN Jesus Christ.  He is worth far more than everything that we have!

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