“God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own choosing.” (Ecclesiastes 7:30)
Right now, all the big box stores are filled with storage bins and organizing supplies. With Christmas gone and a new year on, there’s lots of talk about fresh starts . . . losing weight, exercise, getting organized, and simplifying. I stumbled across a chapter on simplicity in Richard Foster’s classic work Celebration of Discipline and thought I’d share some key points.
Regarding inward simplicity . . .
- “The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style . . . Simplicity begins in inward focus and unity. It means to live out of what Thomas Kelly calls the ‘Divine Center.’”
- So, when we experience God in us, our “speech becomes truthful and honest.
The lust for status and position is gone, because we no longer need status and position.” We can relax and be ourselves, regardless of what others might think. We’re loved, accepted, known, and important to our Heavenly Father.
- “Because we lack a divine Center our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things . . . ‘We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.’”
- Fosters talk about how simplicity is freedom from anxiety. It comes from an inward spirit of trust in God allowing for “a joyful life of carefree unconcern for possessions.”
- “The central point for the Discipline of simplicity is to seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness of His kingdom first—and then everything else will come in its proper order.” James Bryan Smith says the kingdom of God exists when we’re with God. It’s not a place; it’s when we’re aware of Him and conscious of His presence.
Regarding outward simplicity . . .
- “Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status . . . Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you . . . Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.” (i.e., resist the glitter of the next new thing)
- “Learn to enjoy things without owning them.” As to the things you already own, “develop a habit of giving things away . . . De-accumulate.” And for things you’re considering owning, “look with a healthy skepticism at all ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes.”
- “Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.” It’s hard to do, but we should pay attention to who you’re buying from, where it came from, and who made it.
- “Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation . . . Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.”
Neither Foster nor I intend to lay these down as rules . . . maybe they’re guiding principles or just checkpoints. But I can say from my experience that less is more and everything you own actually owns you.
Giving a place and paying attention to the Holy Spirit in our hearts leads to wisdom in our outward decision-making.
Scripture: But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)