Thankfully, this business of following Jesus, or in Corpath terms…pursuing excellence in spirit, is simple…really simple.
And I like it like that. It refreshes my soul.
Because you know how we Christians are prone to complicate things… with our theological debates, our eschatological timelines, our competing denominational statements of faith, our liturgical rules, our church conventions.
And we sure can get tied up in knots!
Should I tithe on the gross or the net? Where should I stand on evolution? Am I sinning if I buy lottery tickets? Am I offending God if I don’t buy carbon offsets? Should I go to court to settle this dispute? What if I get remarried after divorce?
And more recently…what if I actually agree with gay marriage, or with global warming, or choose to be vegan?
Yes, life can just be too complicated most days. Our hearts can become a sea of restless waves. The world seems full of discordant noises. And we don’t know which way to go.
What does Jesus think about all this stuff anyway?
May I humbly suggest there are four simple truths that can bring comfort and clarity on our earthly pilgrimage.
First, it’s clear our Lord doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up. He knows our hearts. He knows we are frail. He knows we are not perfect. That’s why his Word says,
“Cast all your anxiety upon me because I care for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
Anxiety of soul steals our joy. What is the antidote? Augustine prayed, “Let my soul take refuge from the crowding turmoil of worldly thoughts beneath the shadow of your wings.”
We find consolation and solace when we, in simple child-like faith, climb up into the lap of our heavenly father, casing our cares on him, and resting in his presence.
Second, nothing can twist us into spiritual pretzels more than the comparison game. But the Lord knows how destructive such thinking can be. He doesn’t want us to compare ourselves to others and be overly concerned with their impressions of us on our life’s journey.
The Apostle Paul was living a profound, but simple truth when he said,
“I care very little if I am judged by you or any human court…it is the Lord who judges.”
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
And then Jesus wants us to remember that our Christian lives are not about rules and performance measures. God is not running around with a cosmic video camera, shouting “Gotcha” every time we step out of line.
Instead, we should remind ourselves each day that we are loved by our heavenly father, and he is at peace with us. Consider these comforting words,
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him; and through him to reconcile to himself all things…by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.(Colossians 1:19)
Finally, our Lord calls us to one, simple over-riding virtue…the command to love.
This is the summit of Christian living. This is the totality of his expectation for us. The beauty of the gospel is the simplicity of the call to love.
“Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
“Live a life of love.” (Ephesians 5:2)
“I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Thank you, Lord, that following you can be simple. Our souls can rest comfortably. Our hearts can be at peace. We can live free and easy. We can live a life of love.
May the simplicity of the gospel bless you this week.