Richard Foster writes in Celebration of the Disciplines “Simplicity is freedom. Duplicity is bondage. Simplicity brings joy and balance. Duplicity brings anxiety and fear.” “The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life style.”
For the past year or so my wife and I have been attempting to downsize in anticipation of moving and leaving behind the harsh Chicago winter. In the course of this exercise we have realized how cluttered our life is with stuff. It was a painful reality even though we have been fairly disciplined about running out and getting the latest big thing, we still have too much regular stuff.
The Trinitarian Presence of God began speaking to me several years ago about letting go and living with my hands wide open. In beginning to process this I began to see Simplicity has a sister discipline as well and that is Submission. For me when the inward reality speaks submission is required to realize the joy of the outward expression of simplicity.
I believe simplicity is just not about material possessions, though that is a good deal of it, it is also about control in all aspects of our life. Holding loosely those things as well as those people that we love!
Though we will live on eternally with those we love who know Jesus we need to understand all of it on this side is temporal.
Foster goes on to comment “Of all the Disciplines simplicity is the most visible and the most open to corruption.” This goes to my thoughts on the video below, the three traps of simplicity that will lead to the bondage of a duplicitous and not a simple way of life.
So how do you begin. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Get with God and seek His will for you. To do this you must engage in other disciplines such as solitude and scripture meditation to still yourself and hear well. The focus upon the Kingdom produces the inward reality and without that our life results in an endless cycle of duplicitous legalism.
We really want an Apple iPad but do not have the money, we covet it but overtly tell our friends, etc we have no desire for such a device.
We fellowship among believers who authentically practice simplicity, but again we would love to have a new flat screen 42 inch TV. We have the money but feel it would be a stumbling block to the others if we got the TV. So we forgo it.
We tend toward the gospel on the left and are really into our churches social justice campaign. The pastor reminds us of our excessive materialistic lifestyle compared to the rest of the world and exhorts us to begin to live with significantly less than what we do now. We obey the pastor and verbalize that wherever we go.
None of these examples involved a process of the individual making a decision based upon their time with God.
The end is great. The means is death. Duplicity and legalism drives commendable behavior. But freedom is absent and they carry around their denial of whatever they covertly really still desire like a ball and chain.
Conversely when living with less and holding loosely everything in life is a response driven totally by seeking and hearing God clearly abundance and freedom result. But rarely do any of us take the time to hear God and let Him choose what HE wishes to finger loose from our lives.
God will meet you’re every need but not your wants. You will understand this and love it the more you seek Him as His apprentice. All you really need is the Trinitarian Presence of God and truly all else will be taken care of. I believe we give this idea great lip service but put little skin in the game. This leads to great instability among the Body of Christ. We desperately need to give up and let the Trinity lead our lives every moment of every day. It is possible. God would not ask of you something that you could not do. So He gives you GRACE to accomplish what you could not otherwise do.
In reviewing Richard Foster’s chapter on Simplicity he concludes with a to do list. It’s very wise advice. But again those of you who are familiar with my writing know how sensitive I am to mortal telling mortal what to do. I believe it marginalizes the influence of the Trinity in our lives. Abraham did not have Foster or Willard, to tell him what to do. “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness”. Gen. 15:6.
This is the kind of people we need to become and when there is a strong influence standing in between God and us, God is not only marginalized but we lose out on the opportunity to gain the necessary experience through knowledge to know He is sufficient. If we do not have first hand knowledge then our trust and confidence in Him is weak and if it is weak we are reluctant to be His apprentice.
Having said that please don’t stop reading the great books on spiritual formation and listening to Sunday sermons but at the same time put them in the proper perspective as there is no substitute for Matthew 6:33. It is mandatory for you to go forward, as the source of a life of abundance is not a great book or a Sunday sermon it is the constant and intimate presence of the Trinity in your life.
So let’s go, get alone and let the Holy Spirit begin to finger loose the stuff of your life and learn to live loosely in all of life.
Eagerly anticipating your comments on your experience with Simplicity!