A Spirituality of Simplicity

Posted by on Jun 12, 2022 in Blog | 1 comment

wooden chair on a white wall studio

Can less be more? Or, in the world of church and Jesus following, can fewer services, ministries and activities help us draw closer to God? It may sound counter intuitive, but let’s play with the idea and see where it leaves us. It is actually a relevant question. After all, Covid shut downs have seen most churches run significantly fewer programs, and it is important that we ask if that has been to our spiritual detriment, or if in some strange way, it has helped us become a little more like Jesus. If the former, we should probably get back to business as usual as quickly as possible, if the latter, we need to ask some penetrating questions. The answers might not be obvious.

Keeping it simple has many biblical precedents.

It is Elijah in 1 Kings 19 discovering that God was speaking not through wind, earthquake or fire, but in the quietest of voices. That voice asked the most pertinent of questions, “What are you doing here?” Put differently, “Why are you angry, depressed and filled with panic – how can you be in that place instead of the place of simply trusting my goodness?” In fairness to Elijah, it was a hard pushback. While we don’t need to figure out who had the toughest life, I suspect Elijah would have thought our covid lockdowns a breeze in comparison to what he went through… but hey, comparisons are complicated and usually unhelpful, so let’s just agree that things weren’t entirely easy for Elijah. Yet despite all the excuses the complexity of that time offered, God’s question stills probingly asks, “Elijah, why did you stop trusting me?”

Super simple question: “What are you doing here Elijah?” What indeed? And in some way, is Elijah your name?

Then there is Jesus’ take in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:34 we are given the clearest of instructions: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” That’s not difficult to understand, but it is often difficult to obey. Oh, and notice how Jesus frames it: “Today’s trouble is enough for today.” The implication is that each day has its own trouble, so don’t be thrown by that. It doesn’t mean life is out of control. But keep it simple. Don’t carry more today than you need to. Jesus knew what he was talking about. The shadow of his Cross was never far away. But he carried on facing the particular troubles that each day brought. And he also embraced the joys that came his way – like wedding feasts where he could boost the wine supply.

And then there is the super simple picture of the early church. It’s opening portrait in Acts 2:42 informs us that the believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to fellowship, to breaking bread and to prayer. How wonderfully uncomplicated. And if you want it even simpler, go to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 18:20, that where two or three gather in his name, he will be present. Yes, it takes intentionality (we gather in the name of Jesus), but it sure doesn’t take a large crowd, amazing music, extraordinary preaching or even exceptional coffee. Just intentional gathering.

So what’s this post trying to say?

If you’ve had to keep it simple, perhaps that is a really good thing. And perhaps in an overly complicated world, a less cluttered church could be a disproportionate blessing to many. And if you are feeling far from God, why not reach out to a few friends, and gather in the name of Jesus. He has promised to turn up. And he keeps his word…

As always, nice chatting…

You are free to reproduce this post with acknowledgment. Please forward to any who might find it helpful.

Photo by Paula Schmidt on Pexels.com

One Comment

  1. Comment *Thanks Brian, good reminder

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