The Beauty of Simplicity
By Stephen Hulshizer
The ground is covered with a dusting of snow and there is a full moon shining brightly in a dark and cloudless sky. While it is not flashing, multi-colored, or overpowering in its brilliance, it is beautiful in its simplicity.
As you drive through your community during the Christmas season you see many homes covered with a great number of lights in a variety of colors. Your eye is immediately drawn to them, but they do not seem to impress you with the warmth of the season.
Then there is the home which has a simple wreath with its red bow hanging on the front door and illuminated by a single light. Every time you drive by your eye is drawn to it and you feel as if it is inviting you in for some warm fellowship around a crackling fire. It is beautiful in its simplicity.
You sit and ponder the life of your godly parents. Your mind runs back over many years, some of them difficult, others filled with laughter. You did not think of it then, but as you sit now and review their lives there was a simplicity that marked them. They loved the Lord and each other, supported the local assembly, and worked hard. They were not flashy, nor charismatic, but their lives were beautiful in their simplicity.
Does your life reflect the beauty of simplicity? I must confess that for some time my mind has been overwhelmed with the complexity of present day Christianity By complexity I do not mean the use of technology, such as the computer I am using to write and edit these thoughts. I am thinking more of the complexity of thinking and ideas that I hear from many Christian circles today. There are so many books, seminars, and programs that seem to turn the believer's life in to a very complex maze which does not really lead anywhere, other than to the Paralysis of Analysis." Proverbs 23:7 tells us how we think has a great impact on what we are. One wonders if we get too complex in our thinking that it does not result in a complex life.
In reading books, and attending some seminars, I can not help but be troubled with the complexity of what is being taught. Much of what is said is very impressive and exciting at the time, but I would go crazy just trying to remember, let alone apply the multitude of "ideas." There are books on talking to yourself, analyzing yourself, finding yourself, and losing yourself. It is no wonder that many young people today are confused, discouraged, paralyzed, and/or burnt out. We have made the Christian life so complex that one almost needs a Master's degree in psychology just to know who he is and why he exists. The Bible states these facts in rather simple language. (Gen. 1:26-27; Rom. 11:36; Eph. 2:10)
I have sat and listened to some describe what they are currently learning "from Scripture" and I must confess I just can't find it there! Large structures of "truth" have been built on very small foundations of partial verses or man's philosophy. In other cases I have listened to individuals take a basic problem, or what they
thought to be a problem and by using what they have "learned," turn it into an unbelievably complex issue. Burning your husband's toast is not an indication that you lack self-control! The fact that you do not hug every Christian you meet, does not mean you are not a loving person! The fact that you and your husband can't agree on the wallpaper does not mean your marriage is failing! Because you do not "feel" spiritual does not mean you are not spiritual. It seems many spend more time analyzing every act and decision in life than they do actually living! It seems that many times the results of digging are worse than if the things discovered had never been found at all.
What ever happened to the "simple life" that many godly Christians have known before us? I am not really sure. I know times have changed, but I know the Lord has not (Mal. 3:6). Maybe it is because we have gotten away from teaching the Word and are teaching the "thoughts of men" more. It may be that we read our Bibles in the light of psychology, rather than the other way around. Maybe it is because we place too much pressure on young Christians to "perform," rather than patiently instructing them in the Word and waiting for them to grow in their knowledge of God (Col. 1:10). Perhaps it is because believers are not aware of the pleasure that the Lord receives from the life of one who "just" loves his wife, does an honest day's work, raises his children in the fear of the Lord, and faithfully supports a local assembly (Prov. 23:24; Heb. 13:21).
Maybe it is because we have placed more emphasis on knowing "yourself' than on knowing Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:10). Maybe it is because in our attempt to get away from dead religion and tradition, we have "thrown the baby out with the wash water." Perhaps we threw away the "old fashioned" fear of God as well (Acts 9:31). Maybe we are placing too much emphasis on a person's personality, rather than their character.
Whatever the reason, it seems evident that the "much learning" has not led to the knowledge of the truth that sets us free, rather than enslaving us to our own minds. (2 Tim. 3:7) I know full well that life itself can be complex, and do not mean to over simplify it. However, as I read Scripture and review the life of Christ and the lives of other godly people, I am convinced that they were not, and are not characterized by complexity, but by simplicity. This is equally true of what they taught.
Is it possible that we have made the Christian life far more complex and difficult than it really is? Is it possible that we are our own worse enemy? Is it possible that we have filled our lives with many "brilliant ideas," but lack the beauty of simplicity? (Col. 2:8) Is Christ no longer sufficient? (2 Cor. 2:14-17) Is it possible that we should drink again from the wells from which our fathers did? (Gen. 28:18; Prov. 22:28) This is not a call to return to the past, but to the simplicity of Christ and His Word.