Chapter 7 - Outward Simplicity: Beginning Steps
Today there is a heretical teaching that is an absolute plague on American Christianity. It is the dogmatic unexamined credo that whatever we gain is ours to do with as we please. If we earn $70,000, how we spend it is our private affair. Perhaps we will concede that it is legitimate for the Church to talk about tithing but the other 90% is none of its business.
How utterly self-consumed and provincial! In no way can we twist scripture to justify such a belief. Our lifestyle is not out private affair. We dare not allow each person to do what is right in his or her own eyes. The Gospel demands more of us: it is obligatory upon us to help one another hammer out the shape of Christian simplicity in the midst of modern affluence. We need to love each other enough to sense our mutual responsibility and accountability. We are our brother's and sister's keeper.
Most dangerous of all is the tendency to turn an expression of simplicity into a new legalism.
We understand that Peter spoke to the particular issues of his day; our task is to discern what constitutes ostentatious elitism and speak to that situation today.
Never forget that poverty is not simplicity.
Most of us if we kept a careful record for one year would be amazed at how much we spend in certain categories.
And also 7 or 8 keys to stepping into simplicity that you could initiate in your life today. You need to buy this book and read it.
My major takeaways...
1. Simplicity is not simply a private matter or choice. It must be discussed and addressed in our churches, life groups, friendship circles etc. This presents a massive challenge but we cannot back down from it. Pastors and leaders need wisdom. Congregations need an open heart and a passion for Kingdom living. We all need the Spirit of God to speak and lead, understanding that means we may not be led where we want to go, but into what is best for us.
2. Simplicity is not poverty and denial it is freedom, peach and purpose. It brings health and growth. Unless we chose to simplify, to live sustainability, to live counter culture to the world, we will continually damage this planet, our relationships with people around us, and our intimacy with God. Consumerism and materialism is counter to the culture of the Kingdom. We have to recognise that as truth. We also have to be brave enough to acknowledge that so much in our lives is unnecessary excess. Sure we can call it blessing, favor, and the grace of God. Again we have to come back though, to what is that blessing for? Challenging and difficulty but a journey we must all take. Billy Graham said - 'The growing possibility of our destroying ourselves and the world with our own neglect and excess is tragic and very real.'
3. Simplicity is all about the sorting of priorities in life. It brings us into a depth of relationship with God, with others, and with creation that brings life in our Christian journey.