For Simplicity’s Sake

“Buddhists condense!” my friend Jacie told me as she held up her thumb and forefinger. With her other hand she showed me a large, four-version, parallel Bible. I understood what she was saying but didn’t really know how to respond. I’ve thought a lot about it over the years.

God’s omniscience can be hard to fathom. When we know that God exists but then hear this piece of information: “He knows all things” (1 John 3:20), we might assume that He doesn’t need to hear from us about the trivial things in our life. “I mean, if He already knows…” When you think about it, how much of our life is trivial, mundane and routine?

And how do we make sense of the entire Bible as applied to our entire life?

Simplicity is the key.

In Luke’s gospel (10:39-42), Jesus tells Mary that “one thing is needful” (hence the name of this blog). Sometimes I can get so caught up with the sheer volume of information and input in my life that I forget to sit at Jesus’ feet and fellowship with Him. God is upholding all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). “All things” includes my life and my problems, my dreams and aspirations. So what do I have to worry about? Nothing. But if I don’t share with Him the things that fill my day, then I’ll get overwhelmed and miss not only Jesus, but also His miracles—great and small—that counter every worry. Jesus told Mary’s sister Martha, “Mary has chosen that good thing”. We need to do the same. Choose the simplicity of Christ and let Him share the burden of cares and worries that may be distracting you from fellowship with Him. Don’t let yourself be deceived into carrying all of this stuff yourself (2 Corinthians 11:3).

I saw Jacie a couple of years later. We caught up then afterwards, I brought up her comment. I told her about how Jesus, in effect, summed up the entire Bible with this statement of simplicity: “Love God, love others.” (Matthew 22:37-40) I hope what I said will stick with her as her comment stuck with me.

Maybe we can be the vision of a prophet-man’s dream…

That line is from a song by Seal entitled Get it Together. Unlike our contemporary view of prophecy the lyric and indeed the whole song is colored with an optimistic responsibility. What needs to be done in our lives, in our homes and our churches, in our society to turn us into the people that God needs to do the work that He wants to do? (Revelation 17:9 …and His wife hath made herself ready) See, God is always doing something. His plan, His ‘metanarrative’ is always happening. The reason we don’t see what He’s doing is because of pride. Simple humility, the solution.

Try treating someone better than you would have yourself be treated. (Philippians 2:3) Be willing to suffer on Jesus’ behalf. (Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 3:17) And do all of it as unto the Lord. (Romans 14:8)

Help God! He wants you to be a part of what He’s doing. Step into the river. Let God sweep you off your feet.

Cultivating Authenticity

Humanity pursues truth.

Let me rephrase that, humanity pursues what it thinks is true and has no way or means of truly knowing if the ideology or belief system they’ve found is true (as compared to God, who is ultimate truth, bear with me here). This is one level (Postmodernism). If it works for them and if their conscience isn’t bothered then it’s good enough. Of course this is subjective. If someone’s conscience is less sensitive than the other person’s then you’re bound to encounter hard feelings and misunderstandings. Okay, apologize, move on. Maybe you’ll learn from this and even make an acquaintance.

Consider the exhortations of people—religious and non—who are on fire about whatever it is that they’re passionate about. They found the truth and now they want you to know—and convert. But do they care about you? Really care? Why are they telling you how they came to find the(ir) truth, wherever it happened to be? What’s their motive? Look in their eyes. Anyone not willing to be a friend first is not worth listening to, I say. Make a friend.

Here’s what I believe: Jesus is the Truth.
However, I also believe that people are smart. (these statements are not mutually exclusive). They listen to what you’ve said. “Doth not the ear try words?” (Job 12:11) and if you (a professing Christian) are not right with God, then the Holy Spirit—The Spirit of Truth—most likely will not be released to back up your words and witness to their heart what you’ve said.

This is why it’s imperative that we as Christians keep our hearts transparent before the Lord, our sins under His blood and our testimony pure. Jesus says that the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). Then when we talk to people about the Jesus we know, they’ll see through us (in a good way) to Jesus. See also Luke 16:8.

Our Response-ability

Richard Florida, in his book The Rise of the Creative Class, says that “the service economy is the support infrastructure of the creative age”. What does this mean? It means, Who’s footing the bill?

He goes on to explain that the age we live in is indeed a creative one. If you’re in any way creatively inclined then you know what I’m talking about. Creative expression is one of the most exciting and fulfilling human endeavors. But, as the song Distant Early Warning by Rush points out, “we need someone to talk to and someone to sweep the floors.” Pray for that someone. Don’t be ashamed to reach out and brighten their day with a smile, a tip, whatever the Holy Spirit puts on your heart.

God is so generous. He does “exceeding, abundantly above all we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Have you thanked God for anything recently? How about ever? That last breath you drew came from Him (Acts 17:25). Everything good that we have (James 1:17). A little gratitude would be a smart idea (1 Thessalonians 5:18), it’s the polite thing to do.

Think about the people who make our life possible: The cleaning crew that vacuums your office. The garbage collector who comes every Tuesday morning (in my neighborhood). The barista who made the coffee you (or I) so desperately need. Everyone from teachers to police officers to servicemen and women.

We live in a world of fantasy if we’re taking these people for granted. The auspices of America cost something to maintain. Please practice frequent gratitude. Both to the men and women who serve us and to God for making the whole thing possible.