I heard this question asked during a Sunday School lesson sometime in my early adolescent years. Used as a tool to get kids to ponder what truly matters, the question was a good one.
BUT... for a kid like me who was all about giving the "right" answers in order to please the audience, I quickly weighed my answer according to the "invisible-ultra spiritual-scale" that would score me the biggest points.
0 points - Selfish things such as a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or shirt.
3 points - Semi-important family items such as birth certificates, Social Security
5 points - Sentimental family items such as pictures, hand-made art hanging on
10 points - Spiritual items such as hymn book, concordance, old sermon notes
50 points - My Bible
200 points - Everyone's bibles, especially the ones containing the most hand-
written study notes
What I was really thinking I'd have wanted to save from the fiery grave was my favorite stuffed deer named Bambi, the afghan my grandma crocheted for me, and my favorite necklace of a bear swinging from the chain. But what I said and thought was this:
"I'd have to say my Bible" (even though I know I could buy a new one but
that's the "right" answer!)
"My dad and mom's bibles" (because that shows I'm thinking of them)
"Nothing else" (because that drives home the proof that I don't love earthly
possessions. That sounds very, VERY spiritually mature)
I was truly a pleaser to the core of my being! I didn't answer with genuine answers because I'd predetermined those were not the "right" answers to give a teacher. And what's a teacher suppose to say to that? "Oh, come on kid! What would you honestly grab?" Are there children in the world that would grab their bibles from a burning house? Probably. But in the back of my head, I knew I could go down to the local book store and buy another, but that sounded shallow.
We are taught to Be honest - Don't lie. Well, except at church. How do we become people who smile and answer "I'm fine" when things are actually going haywire? I don't know if there is one big universal answer for everyone but I think it's tied to a belief that being "real" can make you vulnerable to judgement. Inside, we can play the mind game just like I did when the burning house question came - "I'd like to say I'm lonely today or being a mom is tough sometimes, but the answer with the most points is 'FINE'".
Sometimes our lives aren't fine. Sometimes we are stuck in a crazy cycle in our marriages. Some days we wish we could have the whole house to ourselves because our kids are driving us insane. Sometimes we blow it big time and reap the consequences of our own sin. Some days we are surrounded by people and yet we feel like an island. Let's be real! There are good times. But there are bad times, too. We need to be loving and gracious with each other in all circumstances.
Here's an easy test to take to see if you are comfortable being genuine. Ask this question:
"What's got a bushy tail, lives in trees and eats nuts?"
If you want to answer "Jesus" just because that's the "right" answer, then maybe you're struggling with being honest and genuine. By the way, for all you fellow Pharisees out there, the answer is A SQUIRREL! And yes, Jesus is also the answer to all the things in life that truly matter - honest!