Simplicity Made Simple | Why We Need Simplicity
Written By Brent Nelsen
Read: Luke 18:18-30.
How does the Rich Ruler’s attachment to his “stuff” prevent him from following Jesus?
Focus: For the next 8 weeks, we will focus on the discipline of simplicity. Each week we will dig deeper into this discipline. Take the next 5 minutes to get an introduction to WHY we need simplicity in the Christian life from Brent Nelsen.
Why We Need Simplicity
Do you remember that kid in high school who had to be in every possible activity? Three-sport athlete, wrote for the school newspaper, student government, played guitar for the church youth group worship band, and on and on. I wasn’t that kid. Maybe some of you were, but that life overwhelmed me. I was involved in a few things, but either contentment or lack of ambition (probably both) didn’t lead me to be hyper-involved. Looking back, I honestly think I’m better for it.
Now I’m a parent. And now I feel myself constantly tempted to push my kids to be what I’m glad I wasn’t. My anxiety soars when I think about whether I’m exposing them to enough activities. My boys are in grade school and we haven’t started piano lessons. Have we missed the chance for them to become music prodigies? They both play (and LOVE) little league baseball, but shouldn’t they also try soccer and flag football? Maybe they’d love those even more. What about Boy Scouts-have we exposed them enough to nature? What else should we be doing to help them achieve academic excellence? Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m failing as a parent. Why do I feel this anxiety, and what is the right response?
I’m not sure if my particular anxiety resonates with you. You may not have children, you may be at a different stage of life, or you’ve mastered this particular challenge. But I think we all have this kind of anxiety-an anxiety that comes from comparison. Comparing who we are with who we want to be. Comparing what I have with what my neighbor has. At the heart of this kind of anxiety is discontent and a failure to live simply.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun says, “Simplicity cultivates the great art of letting go. Simplicity aims at loosening inordinate attachment to owning and having. Simplicity brings freedom and with it generosity” (Spirit of the Disciplines, 74). Simplicity is an internal attitude that has external results. It comes when we build our lives around a single purpose and all of our actions flow from that purpose. The simple life has less anxiety because it is grounded in that purpose.
Over the next nine weeks, we invite you into the practice of simplicity. We’ll talk first about how we get it, and then give some practical steps for how to do it, focusing specifically on our money, possessions, words, and the entertainment we consume. Simplicity runs against the grain of a culture focused on achievement and accumulation of wealth, but it’s a life that Jesus is calling us into, a life that He lived. It’s a call out of the anxiety and comparison, and into joy and contentment.
Prayer: Pray that God would show you some areas in your life where you need to simplify. Spend two minutes in listening silence and write down anything that comes to mind.