Simplicity is a unique spiritual discipline. Its idea is spread throughout the Bible, yet one would be hard-pressed to find a single command of God stating, "live a simple lifestyle." However, we see that Jesus' lifestyle was one of a simple man. He spoke of avoiding the complicated life when we have two masters--money and God (Luke 16:13). Greed and covertness, the desire for pleasure, is a dirty thief of the life God designed for us. We should only have God as our master
Another time, Jesus said, "Let your yes be yes and your no be no, anything more is from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37). Still, we over-complicate things when we let our yes actually be a soft maybe. . . unless something else comes up. Our lack of simple commitment enslaves us to an over-complicated life, all the while tricking us into thinking we are easy going and simple. It's not true. It's twisting our souls up with the evil one.
There's something to simplicity.
Paul warned the church in Corinth not to overcomplicate the gospel by following specific teachers over following Jesus (1 Corinthians 3). It was as if Paul was saying, "Don't over-complicate the Gospel with your favorite preachers and teachers." Keep it simple because that's what Jesus did. He also encouraged Timothy to pray for the kings and rulers so the believers could life quiet, dignified lives (1 Timmothy 2:1-3). It's as if Paul was hopeful that the followers of The Way could live in simplicity, without the stress and complexity that the government might bring upon them.
We complicate life and long for simplicity; yet, we continue to complicate everything and grow frustrated by the rapid pace of our own over-complication. How is this so? What's complicating life?
As I look the life of Solomon, I see some great encouragement in a conclusion he came to at the end of his life. This is a man who accomplished many things as the king of the Israelites. He built many structures and established may policies. But he also had a lust for foreign women. 1 Kings 11 tells us that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. That sounds complicated. These woman pulled his heart towards false gods and enticed him to sin against the Lord. He sought pleasures of all kinds. He did not seem to value simplicity. Yet, toward the end of his life he went on a soul-searching journey of spiritual reflection to find meaning in it all. Then he wrote a remarkable line in Ecclesiastes.
"See, this alone I have found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes" (Ecclesiastes 7:29).
In all of his life and all of his searching, Solomon finally concluded that God has a design for man but man's sinful schemes work against God's simple plan.
God's plan is simple. Follow him and his ways alone. This is simple. However, false gods, idolatry, and sin complicate our lives. We love money and power. So did Solomon. Our identities are shaped by the things we want. Experiences have become our gods and we over-complicate our lives to worship our experiences. So did Solomon. Many men (and women too) have had more than 700 partners and 300 concubines in the world of easy internet pornography. We lust. So did Solomon. We sin. So did Solomon. We can't seem to see God's plan as enough, so we scheme and over-complicate everything. So did Solomon. But in the end, Solomon discovered that "God has a design for man but man's sinful schemes work against God's simple plan." It's time we come to the same conclusion. Simplify! Trust and follow God's ways.
This week we'll be looking at the spiritual discipline of simplicity. Whether you are over-complicated, burdened, and exhausted or you're resting in the simple way of Jesus, come join us. We have a time of prayer and communion Sundays at 10am and a corporate worship service at 11am. See you there.
For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman