Jesus, cast a look on me. Give me sweet simplicity. Make me poor and keep me low. Seeking only Thee to know.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Discipline of Simplicity I

If anyone is wondering, I am not someone who leaves things "unfinished". I am, however, one of those people who read multiple books at a time. Its just another way of multi-tasking, I suppose. For instance, as I look at my nightstand now, I have the following books opened to where I left off and/or a bookmark sticking out of each: Total Surrender by Mother Teresa, The Love Dare by Stephen & Alex Kendrick, A Sprig of Hope: Sermons of Encouragement & Expectation by Robert T. Young, The Three R's: Grades K-3 by Ruth Beechick, and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. (I'm going to have to return A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah to my sister, Anna, b/c I just don't have time to fit it in-boo.) And, if the Lord is willing, I will be starting a new Bible Study group tomorrow night and will need to purchase Annointed, Transformed, Redeemed by Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and Priscilla Shirer. (Whew!)

Point being, I have finally entered into Part 2 of Celebration of Discipline. And, as God does, ch. 6 was revealed to me when I needed it to be-
It is something that I have been pursuing for a while now. It has been a slow process, baby steps, if you will. Including donating a lot of my clothes & shoes, having a rather large garage sale for charity, trading in my $400/month new car for a "paid in full" used one, and putting our house on the market. However, the pursuit of simplicity, in itself, can be iDOLOTRY.

Matthew 6:33
"But seek first his kingdom and righteousness..."

Foster says in Celebration of Discipline(and I agree):
Simplicity is freedom. Duplicity is bondage. Simplicity brings joy and balance. Duplicity brings anxiety and fear.

Ecc. 7:29(The Message)
" God made men and women true and upright; we're the ones who've made a mess of things."

Foster continues...
Because [this modern world] lacks a divine Centre our need for security had lead us into an insane attachment to things. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick.
Covetness we call ambition.
Hoarding we call prudence.
Greed we call industry.
We should take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn.
Before attempting to forge a Christian view of simplicity it is necessary to destroy the prevailing notion that the Bible is ambiguous about economic issues. No serious reading of the Scripture can substantiate [that Jesus did not address himself to practical economic questions].

{Looooove this!!!!}

Constantly the Bible deals decisively with the inner spirit of slavery that an idolatrous attachment to wealth brings.
The Aramaic term for wealth is 'mammon' and Jesus condemns it as a rival God.

Luke 16:13 (KJV)
"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

Without simplicity, says Foster, we will either capitulate to the 'mammon' spirit of the present evil age, or we will fall into an un-Christian legalistic asceticism.
Both lead to idolatry.
Both are spiritually lethal.

woa. This is where I stopped saying "Yea! Right on! Preach it!" and thought "Oops. Have I done that? Have I bought, or not bought, something so I could 'find' simplicity?" Hmmmm.

Nothing must come before the kingdom of God, including the desire for a simple life-style.
Simplicity itself becomes idolatry when it takes precedence over seeking the kingdom of God.
[Should I take a pay cut?
No. Seek, first, the kingdom of God.
Should I sale all of my belongings and give to the poor?
No. Seek, first, the kingdom of God.
Should I eat only bread and drink only water?
No. Seek, first, the kingdom of God.]

This explains, I believe, why being a missionary in Africa may be the way one person needs to be serving God but not the way I should be serving God. If I first seek the kingdom of God then I will be called according to His will and for His purpose. Not what I think is His will, or what "John Doe" is doing to further the kingdom of Christ.

Foster points out that:
The person who does not seek the kingdom first does not seek it at all.
The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions.
It is an inward spirit of trust.
If what we have we receive as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom from anxiety.

See also:
Lev. 25:23
Ps. 62:10
Luke 6:20,24
Matt. 6:19,21
Luke 12:15
Luke 12:33
Luke 12:16-21 {LOOOOOVE this one}
Luke 6:30 {and this one!}
1 Timothy 6:9
Heb. 13:5 {GOOOOOOOOOOOD one!}

1 comment:

  1. Ooo good one! I'm glad you posted this since I've also been working towards a more simplistic lifestyle. That's a great point that even in the pursuit of something we consider to be more Godly that it can also end up taking precedence over him.