I’ve realized something as of late about not just me, but about the majority of our society as a whole: We make things complicated. Every single smartphone, computer, coffee maker and Big Mac says it’s making things simple, when in fact they do the exact opposite. The problem is that we can’t simplify things, mostly because the world itself isn’t simple. If iPhones and Macs are so simple then why do they have help hotlines and online forums asking for help? Why do toasters and Poptarts come with instructions? The very act of including instructions with something gives you the impression of complexity.
We want life to be simple, and yet more often than not we complicate things. We look at issues or problems and have lengthy debates on the tiny details, hoping to come to a simple conclusion but instead only finding more complexity. We complicate our relationships with strange Facebook status’ and titles (Why would anyone want to be in an “Open Relationship”? I mean seriously), we go through different stages of definitions when you’re just simply avoiding commitment as long as possible. I don’t understand why our relationships are so much more complicated than they need to be. I was told the other day the MPAA will allow three “F” words in a PG-13 film, but once there is four it immediately goes to an R. The logic of this baffles me. We’re not going to get into that area right now, but the point is, things are complicated, and we aren’t exactly helping.
The worst thing about this is we often let this attitude of complexity slip into our faith. We worry about the do’s and don’ts, the little things “good” Christians are supposed to do, and the whether or not we’re voting for the “Christian” politician. We argue among ourselves about petty theological differences instead of rallying around the universal truth and hope of Christ’s gospel. We put other’s opinions down because they’re not like ours, or we judge others without ever admitting to ourselves that we have struggled with the exact same things. We complain about the church in America failing and yet we are too ignorant or lazy to get off the couch and do something about it. We listen to human men instead of reading the Word for ourselves first. Why do we do these things? Because we’re human, and because our natural inclination is not to think of the things of God. Paul himself struggled with this, as he illustrated in Roman’s 7:14-25. What was Paul’s solution to this problem? Christ. No self-help books, no “success strategies”, no theological debate on what the scriptures “really” mean by “trusting” Christ, none of the jargon. Just simply trusting and clinging to him. I’ve been reminded and convicted of some things lately, and if I could sum them up it would simply be this: When you try to complicate your faith, you end up justifying things you shouldn’t be doing, and when you do, you sin more. The solution? Pray, read the Word, and do what it says.
The crazy thing about a genuine faith in Christ is he will cut through all the complexity. The sad thing about our culture is that we long for complexity, and when it is taken away from us, we can not or do not want to accept it. The one thing God continually scares me with is how he will cut through all of my the I deal with and get to the simple truth, and often this truth is something I have trouble accepting, because it often forces me to realize how completely and utterly sinful I am, how helpless I am without him, how I can’t control anything, and that his grace is too overwhelming for me to comprehend. Before I found out I hadn’t been accepted to graduate school, I had been stressing over it so much that there were days where I was at the point of sickness or depression. Finally I got sick of it and went to the scriptures. I prayed and pulled out a yellow pad and wrote “WHAT DO I DO?” at the top. Then I just opened it up and trusted God to lead me to the right verses. Whenever one spoke to me, I wrote the passage location down and then broke it down with bullet points to it’s most simple terms. I found 10 verses, and 8 of them all said the same thing: Trust God, pray, read the word, obey. Then I found out I wasn’t accepted, and it felt like God just said, “You know what to do. Ball’s in your court.” So this what I’m trying to do. It’s hard. I have no idea what I’m going to do. But I have no alternative but to trust. I might do it kicking and screaming at first, but when I look at things realistically, I know I have no alternative. It’s either trust or wither and die. I didn’t tell you all this to try to be super spiritual or to say “Look at me and what I did!”. I can tell you honestly I am probably one of the least spiritual people around a lot of the time, and it saddens me, and makes me want to be better. I just wanted to hopefully encourage people.
So try being simple in your devotion to Christ. I’m trying to do this right now. It’s hard. It’s frustrating because often it feels like nothing is happening. I get impatient, but God doesn’t get impatient with me. So I’m just going to keep trying. Who knows? We may grow together.