Living Christian Simplicity

The older I grow the more clearly I perceive the dignity and winning beauty of simplicity in thought, conduct, and speech: a desire to simplify all that is complicated and to treat everything with the greatest naturalness and clarity.

Saint Pope John XXIII

In today’s society, the so-called “good life” seems to be bound up in getting the newest, latest gadget and the belief that more is always better. Witness the lines of people waiting hours to get the latest iPhone or video game release! Add to that the torrid pace of contemporary culture and we end up rushed, stressed, and overwhelmed with no idea of how to escape the non-stop merry-go-round.

What is Christian Simplicity?:
Christian Simplicity is living in such a way that your environment, time, thinking, relationships, emotions, physical being, possessions, and finances are not overly influenced by this world and its desires, but by the Lord.

It’s about making more space in your life and in your heart for God to move in you and through you to the world that needs His love. Living a simple life in Christ should also free up some financial resources which can be put towards emergency readiness for you and for others who may need your assistance.

Christian Simplicity: Freedom, Grace and Discipline*

Simplicity is Freedom:
“Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

Richard Foster, perhaps the best known author on the topic, says: “Christian simplicity frees us from this modern mania. It brings sanity to our compulsive extravagance, and peace to our frantic spirit. It allows us to see material things for what they are-goods to enhance life, not to oppress life. People once again become more important than possessions.”

Simplicity is a Grace:
Foster calls Simplicity a grace because it is given to us by God. There is no way that we can use our willpower to attain it. Simplicity is a gift to be graciously received.

Simplicity is also a Discipline. Foster says that Simplicity is a discipline because we are called to do something. What we do does not give us simplicity, but it does put us in the place where we can receive it. Discipline sets our lives before God in such a way that he can work into us the grace of simplicity.

The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle.

  • Speech becomes truthful and honest
  • The lust for status and position is gone.
  • Our goods become available to others.

Simplicity is not Asceticism:
Scripture tells us over and over that creation is good and is to be enjoyed. Asceticism renounces possessions and created goods; Simplicity puts possessions and created goods in their proper perspective. As Foster says, “Asceticism finds no place for a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Simplicity rejoices in this gracious provision from the hand of God.

Philippians 4:12
I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.

Ten ways of Expressing Christian Simplicity

  1. Buy things for their usefulness, not for status.
  2. Reject anything that is addictive in nature.
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away.
  4. Avoid buying gadgets.
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning or possessing them.
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.
  7. Avoid the “buy now, pay later” schemes.
  8. Let your ‘Yes’ mean yes and your ‘no’ mean no. (Simplicity of Speech)
  9. Reject anything that oppresses others.
  10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking the kingdom of God.

Resources:

(Book) Richard J. Foster: Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

(Book) Richard J. Foster: Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World

(Article For Teens) Mahoney, Kelli: Spiritual Disciplines: Simplicity
http://christianteens.about.com/od/christianliving/a/Spiritual-Disciplines-Simplicity.htm