Twice a year paper in my study gets purged, including files that aren’t needed. Books are replaced on the proper shelves and clutter disappears as some things are shelved and others are tossed or shredded. Last week my son gave me some bins to sort the shredding, trash and keep. It just so happened that Sunday I began a new sermon series titled with one word, “Simplify.” My beautiful wife stopped in for a visit and said, “Hmm, you’re starting a new series, Simplify, and you’re cleaning your study. You don’t want to feel like a hypocrite.” We laughed and I assured her that this series was not going to be about cleaning closets, drawers or garages! Although, I agree with her that reduced clutter lightens our load and increases our energy.
We all crave simplicity. As Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “Everything should be made simpler, but not simple.” Simplicity is beautiful, simpletons or foolishness is not. Life increasingly is becoming complicated, chaotic and cluttered. More and more of us know this is not what God intended for his children. So let’s begin with this thought from Scripture. “A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God.” (1 Timothy 6:6, The Message)
Creation is richly complex and simple at the same time. Think of the complexity of the universe, the complexity of ecology the earth, and the complexity of our bodies and minds, yet there is a beautiful simplicity as well. We rejoice in the fragrance and beauty of a rose, the sound of waves on the shore, or the laughter of our children. Simple but complex. Don’t you wonder at how such beautiful simplicity can arise out of such complexity?
Simplicity is also fragile. The ecology of our planet is more fragile than we thought, the rose can easily be crushed and the laughter of a child silenced by harshness. Carelessness will crush simplicity.
Simplicity isn’t something you obtain by simply simplifying. That sentence is not an attempt to be cute, it’s meant to make us think. Trying to simplify will help with life issues like clutter. To deal with the clutter of our souls we must have grace. Simplicity is a gift of grace. It is also a holy habit or spiritual discipline that we can practice. Unfortunately, without grace, simplicity can become degenerate in the form of legalism and judgment.
Simple sells currently. There are magazines devoted to simple living, best selling books (Amazon.com lists 3,950 books on the subject), websites, communities of people who have decided to live communally in simplicity and even some politicians. There is a hunger for simplicity in the heart of Christians and non Christians alike. It’s because we are created in the image of God. I hope you will join me this week and share your thoughts as take a deeper look at how to receive and practice this holy habit.