By Amanda Petersen
It has to be the case that there is something pressing against simplicity. There has always been this separate desire which seeks to lead me away from the simple and towards the obscure. These days, the distractions come often, but always disguise themselves as a more appetizing pursuit than my current situation. This time around, there is a diversion known as knowledge, and its starting to want more of me.
The vision is simple: love. A simple faith that brings the widow to give her only mite. Love is something that I can do, if only in feeble attempts and small doses. I have found something precious and righteous in my encounters with Christ, which have been separate of carpeted altars and prepared prayers. Ive been reckless here and have found boldness, healing, and salvation in simplicity. Out of love, I recognize that I have been rescued, and have a desire to tell others that story.
I have been struggling with this issue of simplicity. What it means to live simply not exhausting resources, nor gathering more for myself than needed, supporting businesses that treat their workers in a humane and respectful way, loving and desiring the Word of God. The essence of my struggle has been to determine what it means to follow Christ. What I am finding is that to follow is actually quite simple, and that often times we give in to distraction in order to justify why we walk the other direction.
The distraction to following is sermon archives, the Christian Inspiration section, seminary courses, philosophy and theology. I have seen diversion in the form of a self-help seminar labeled as a sermon. At times, it is a captivating story turned into a list of bullets that will certainly bring us peace, relationship and time. We can spend time reading books, watching films, downloading podcasts anything to not actually love.
There are bits of knowledge and theology that intrigue me. For example, just this evening I was reading a writing from Rob Bell (in Velvet Elvis) where he begins to make the connection between Jesus, the second Adam, being recognized as a gardener after he rose from the tomb to his role as a gardener, the first Adam, in the creation story. This deeply amazes me. It is like finding a decoded map with layer upon layer of information, and beginning to decipher it. If I it was up to my selfish being, I could sit and read information like this every waking hour. This does something awesome and exciting in my mind. I could so easily become obsessed with wanting to know more.
I want more. I want more knowledge, more fact, more intellect, more meaning more of this thing that will never be completely grasped. I want more of the process; I wont have to spend nearly as much time living out the story. I want to be able to process deep thoughts and impress others with what I have just invented in my mind.
In my reality, I dont truly want any of this. There are days that I am hungry for knowledge, and there are days that my only desire is to love. There has to be a balance.
The tension lies in the truth. There is a half-truth being strutted before me. Sermon archives are a remnant of passionate apostles of Christ, pondering meaning with those he found in the temples, synagogues, and streets. Literature holds the stories of men and women who are questioning the same realities that I am. Theology brings life to words I find in a book we call the Bible it hints of the mystery of those pages that in this life we will never be fully able to rest with.
What am I truly desiring? I desire simplicity birthed out of the story of my rescue. I feel that the reality is that the simplicity is something wise and true and wonderful. We are told over and over again in the Bible that knowledge is profitable, and in my heart I believe that. In my heart, I am being told that there is knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and there is knowledge for the sake of wisdom and truth. That pursuit is a slippery slope. It is one that can lead to pride and a quest for the unattainable.
In my own story, this balance is looking like prayer. If I believe that I have a Savior who is intimately involved in my relationship with him, then I must believe that he will guide me into the truth of him. Perhaps this will lead me to a song, a sermon, a mountainside, or a piece of literature. However, there is responsibility here. I absolutely never want to project my foolish quests upon a Christ who never led me there to begin with.
In the midst of that balance, I believe that a wise and true and wonderful simplicity is something worth searching for.