Chapter 3 - The Biblical Roots: The New Covenant
This astonishment (of the disciples in Matt 19:24) was due primarily to their belief that the wealth of the rich young ruler was a sign of God’s special favor upon him.
And Jesus perceived how bruised and trampled in spirit people were because they were poor and felt that God was displeased with them. Repeatedly he opposed this false and destructive doctrine, showing instead that in the economy of God, the poor, the broken, were special objects of his blessing and concern.
Jesus further saw the wearisome burden upon those who had gotten riches and were trying to hold onto them.
Riches are deceitful precisely because they lead us to trust in them and Jesus saw that trap and the spiritual destructiveness which attends to it.
The life of Christian simplicity is necessarily tied to concern for the poor and defenseless.
Love is well-reasoned concern for the good of all. Love does not have tunnel vision. If I bring the needy into my home and destroy my own family in the process, I am driven by something other than love. These commands of Jesus must be understood with the broader context of the law of love. The biblical instruction is not meant to destroy us, but to set us free.
What we discover in the New Testament witness is the combination of penetrating criticism of wealth with a carefree, almost light hearted attitude toward possessions. It is a combination seldom found today.
In regards to the New Testament church sharing all things together: Please remember, we have no indication that what occurred in the early days of the Church was commanded of that it was even the right thing to do. This is not some pattern to be slavishly imitated. What we see is an incredible freedom to experiment with practical ways to flesh out the meaning of love for God and neighbor.
‘Why all this talk about miracles, divine power, and spiritual preparation? Can’t we just get on with the business of simplifying our lifestyles with all the God-talk?’ I answer that you are welcome to try, and God help you – because you will sorely need it.
There once was a time when I urged simplicity of life upon people indiscriminately. I would cajole,, shove, push, and often they would indeed change their lifestyle; but I found that it was all quite destructive. I discovered that simplicity is just another anxiety-laden burden until people experience God’s gracious power to provide them with their daily bread. Only as kingdom power breaks in are we free to live in trust.
My major takeaways...
1. Material wealth is never an accurate measurement of Godliness, of favor, of being in the will of God, or of living according to the will of God. Godly principles indeed bring increase they are a poor measurement of Godliness though.
2. The simple life makes room for the poor. Simplicity doesn't mean lack of resource, you can live a profoundly simply life while working in a job that earns plenty of money. Simplicity is the grip that the money has on you and your choices with that resource. The simple life makes room for the poor and chooses to bless and to include and to stand in the gap. We should never confuse simplicity for lack.
3. Simplicity has to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The simple life is so counter culture that it has to be Spirit led. You can't talk people into it, force people into it, or instantly embrace the concepts. The quite leading of the Holy Spirit is required.