LIFE TOGETHER - Simplicity
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
We talk about KINDRED being something that we are creating together. It’s not something you go to, it’s something you’re a part of. The Restart Team together with the Holy Spirit has discerned that KINDRED is cultivating bold community that reveals God’s presence in the city. to prevent that vision from becoming a meaningless static statement, we identify these enduring values that guide our life together:
Word of God. Boldness. Simplicity. Equality. Families & Framlies. Our City - Houston.
Today I want us to think about simplicity. For me, this is perhaps the most challenging of all our values, because I so desperately want to complicate things. Just last night I was on my way out with friends, and we were trying to figure out who was going to ride with who because so-and-so will come back here, but then this car won’t come back. And there’s room for 2 people in this car, but there’s kinda 3 people in our group, so who’s going to ride where? All just to get some pizza! I long to things simple, but I drift toward complication. I long to better balance the sacred rhythm of work and rest. I long to embrace the solace of simplicity, rather than try to fill it up with more and more and more.
I hear the promise that Jesus offers in this text, the promise that we will be cared for - clothed and fed, but I’m skeptical. It can’t be that simple, can it? I’ve got to keep busy, I’ve got to be stressed out, because that’s how the story goes when I hear about successful people. If I’m not worrying and scrambling, how will I be glorified when I overcome the obstacles with all my smarts and hard work, and my own awesomeness? And as soon as I’ve said it, as soon as I confess this truth in my heart, I realize that might resistance to simplicity is about building my own empire and not God’s kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is simple, it is we who try to complicate it with our caveats and debates of minor details. God simply...offers it up - offers us love and grace and care. But that freedom is too scandalous. Surely it can’t be that easy, that accessible… The Torah, which Jesus had intensely studied, contained 613 commandments - rules to live by, defining what should be done and what shouldn’t be done. And so….out of 613, the pharisees thought they could trip him up by asking which was the most important.
36‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’37He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
All the 613 laws could be boiled down to these two principles. Love God. Love People. It’s that simple. This is what it means to be the church, followers of Christ, the people of God - Love God. Love People.
It’s a simple promise and a simple commision. God loves you, love one another. My sinful self immediately races to qualify these statements. Sure, God loves me...but not THAT part of me. Yeah, we should love one another, but surely I’m not supposed to love THAT other. It is sin that keeps me from simple - the sin that lets me think I can fix it on my own, the sin that tells me I’m not worthy or that someone else isn’t worthy, the sin that even claims God’s promise is not trustworthy.
What truly keeps you from simplicity?
What is one thing that you could do to make room for simple in your life?
For me, simple is both a matter of stuff and a matter of soul. I start to get that insatiable desire for more, more stuff, a new pair of shoes, new trips, new restaurants. And I don’t think those are inherently bad, but I have to check my motivations - is this something I need or something I want? If I look around, do I already have enough? Do I really need a third pair of wedges that are a little trendier, a slightly different color….? And simple looks like taking 5-10 minutes of my day, just 10 minutes with my cup of hot coffee to just sit, and rest, and be - to be with God, to acknowledge God’s presence in my day, in my work. And I find that if I do this second thing, this simple time with God, I find myself more satisfied.
Simplicity is not easy. And simplicity is not reduction, it’s not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Simplicity is not deprivation. Simplicity is discernment as to what is essential and what is not. Simplicity is the continual practice of clinging to what is central. Fighting for focus. Simplicity is about trust in God, and one another, in what God is doing through one another.
This past week I got to visit Rothko Chapel and as I stood there, dwarfed by these massive monotone paintings, I realize...it is the simplicity of these works that reveal their richness. Their simplicity helps me to notice subtle differences and details I would overlook in other pieces. There’s a nuance of texture. And even in a monotone painting, you realize THAT black is different from THIS black, and there’s almost a hint of blue or purple here.
Simplicity is confessing that we cannot create our own salvation, we can't program our way to perfection.
Simplicity is like pushing all the furniture to the edge of the room so that we can recognize how much space we have for activities.
Simplicity is the acknowledgement of abundance, that there is enough for me - enough stuff, enough grace, enough love for today.