Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Well, we've transitioned to winter since I last wrote on this blog. This year it was a little like flipping a switch -- we just went from fall to snow NOW!

So here's my thought lately. I'm not sure I'm ready to go very far out on this limb but maybe putting it out for you all to ponder with me will help.

I've been studying Matthew 6:19-34 for quite a while now. Actually, Matthew 6:25-34 is one of the first passages I remember ever studying in depth in a class at the Lutheran Bible Institute back in the fall of 1983. Inductive Bible Study with Josee Jordan. Good stuff. We picked out key words, questions, wrote in the margins, analyzed, pondered, circled back and reread until we had that passage totally pegged. Or so we thought. Little did I then realize that the Bible has greater depths than I can understand.

This weekend I'll be preaching -- the second installment in our three-part stewardship series -- on this passage. The title of the sermon is "Live in Trust."

So here's my potential heresy:

I believe Jesus calls us to simplicity. Maybe we're not all called to the radical simplicity of the Amish, though I think there's something gorgeous about that level of world-rejection. No, I think it's quite possible to be a Jesus-follower and use and iPhone. BUT here's my thesis: The more complex my life is, the more likely that I have fallen prey to idolatry somewhere along the way.

Of course I know it's possible to idolize simplicity, and that legalism and Pharisaism are quite possible in the quest for simplicity. Yet, I think Jesus calls us to a kind of hold-on-loosely simplicity that sees worldly goods as tools to be used, not toys to be accumulated.

So one simple question is, do you use your stuff, or do you accumulate it?  If you had to throw away anything you haven't used in two years, how much of your stuff would go in the trash?

I'm afraid I have some bins of tools in the garage that would be bound for the garbage.  That voltmeter that seemed like such a good investment would certainly be trash.

Or maybe I'd recycle it. Let's not be poor stewards.

What is the challenge of simplicity for the modern suburban life? And where do you draw the line to avoid simplicity becoming legalism?

Perhaps most important, does simplicity really help one to be a more single-minded Jesus follower?

These are a few of my favorite ponderings lately. I don't know the answers. I think that not having broadcast TV of any kind (cable, satellite, bunny-ears, etc.) in my house has simplified my life a bit. Of course, I can be on the internet anytime. Our attempt to go without wi-fi when we first moved in didn't last very long. I think I have more expendable time since I'm not following any NFL teams very closely this year. I haven't had a clue for a year or two about any new TV series starting up. (Julie and I had a brief dalliance with "Revolution" but NBC cancelled it last year, so I'm back to no TV.  Feels good.)

Probably an important question in all this is, What does one do with the extra time Simplicity provides? That opens a whole can of worms, doesn't it?

Curious what you think about all this. Is it possible to live a complex life (think: hectic schedules, multiple vehicles. multiple devices cross-linked to one another, multiple sources of information, etc.) and remain a single-minded follower of Jesus?

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