A Path to Simplicity

I want to take you on a journey, a journey of simplicity. During a recent trip to Moscow I had a few sobering realizations which have helped shape the way that I perceive wealth, I'll share more on these experiences in future posts. However, before we go any further, it's worth exploring the merit of simplicity. 

We live in a society which is undeniably too complex. Eccles. 7:30 (JB) says: “God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising.” Our lives reek of silly problems, ‘drama’ and an unprecedented shallowness. Perhaps the most worrying issue related to our self-imposed complexity is our uncontrollable attachment to ‘things.’

“We buy things we do not want, to impress people we do not like.” – Arthur G. Gish

Relating to this point, Richard Foster said: “Where planned obsolescence leaves off, psychological obsolescence takes over. We are made to feel ashamed to wear clothes or drive cars until they are worn out. The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick.

Now, I am not here to ask you to become an ascetic, it's important to remember that God intends that we should have adequate material provision, however when our value of material possessions extends beyond our value of a relationship with God, our sick conformity becomes all the more apparent.

So, why is simple living necessary? Simple living is necessary because without a system of checks and balances in place we will inevitably fall into a routine pattern of abject materialism.

Matthew 6:25-33 provides some insight into material possessions. Verse 33 concludes by saying: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Concluding from the statements in this passage we must understand that our primary concern should not be “what am I going to wear?”, “what am I going to eat?” and so on but rather our primary concern in life should be that ‘His kingdom and His righteousness’ are manifested in our lives. Nothing must come before the kingdom of God.

Our excessive amount of ‘stuff’ has become our greatest distraction from truly seeking God. In an attempt to help dig ourselves out of this pit of lavish depravity, Richard Foster, author of The Celebration of Discipline, has outlined ten steps to simplistic living. Foster is quick to point out that these ten steps are not laws but rather suggestions so that we, those caught up in a fast paced materialistic culture, can reevaluate our priorities and put God first in our lives. Our journey over the next ten days will use Foster's ten steps as a guide. Offering my own interpretation along with biblical truths. 

"The majority of Christians have never seriously wrestled with the problem of simplicity, conveniently ignoring Jesus' many words on the subject. The reason is simple: this Discipline directly challenges our wested interests in an affluent life-style." - Foster

This next point is important: I need to let you know that I am writing as a hypocrite. I echo the words of Paul found in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Materialism is a problem for me just as much as the next person in our society. However, the first step in combatting our sickness is learning that there is alternative ways of doing life.

Once again, this is not, by any means, a call to asceticism. It’s just an invitation to doing things differently, to get our priorities straight and to seek God through one of the most tangible ways, our possessions.

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Jordan Michalski
Student Ministries Assistant | Soul Sanctuary