#Write31Days: Simplicity and the Bible / by Rachel Nordgren

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A few summers back, I spent several weeks overseas. Six weeks in a tiny one-room dorm with three other girls wasn't exactly healthy for my introverted self, so I found myself staying up late just to get some alone time. That summer, I'd packed the book "Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster, and it rocked my sweet little world.

Even now, I find myself flipping through the pages so often that the book has taken up permanent residence on my desk. His chapter on simplicity gave structure to what God was pressing on my heart when Hans and I started our simplifying adventure. To quote Foster...

The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle. Both the inward and the outward aspects of simplicity are essential. We deceive ourselves if we believe we can possess the inward reality without its having a profound effect on how we live. To attempt to arrange an outward lifestyle of simplicity without the inward reality leads to deadly legalism.

Simplicity that is anchored in the Gospel must begin in our hearts; a decluttered home does not instantaneously equate a decluttered heart. When we gain a Gospel quietness and simplicity in our souls, it changes everything else.

Here's where you might get uncomfortable.

Jesus spoke about money more than most of the other things He talked about. It frustrates me that the Church is making such a fuss about of homosexuality when Jesus never actually addressed the topic in detail in the Bible (before you get defensive, go look it up) when we are blissfully blind to our own gluttonous materialism.

Yes, I believe that homosexuality is a sin, but for goodness sakes. Let's quit being hateful towards others and start dealing with some of our own LITERAL junk, amen? Because we are ALL busted, broken sinners at the foot of the Cross, and not one sin puts you an inch further from your need for grace.

*exeunt soap box*

The 10th commandment tells us not to covet, or desire to acquire, what other people have. Chamad is the Hebrew word for "covet", which translates to desire. It's the same word used in Genesis 3:6 - that one verse where the whole creation train went careening off the tracks - when Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was desired to make one wise and then she ate it.

And we all know how that worked out.

Matthew 6:19-20 says, "...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 16:13 tells us that we can't serve two masters...and that we can't love God and money. Psalm 62:10 warns against putting your heart in increasing riches. Jesus says in Luke 6:24, "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation." Over and over again in Scripture, Jesus tells us to give to the poor. He told people to literally sell all of their possessions.

We cannot love our stuff more than we love our God.

When we love stuff, we use it to puff up our social statuses (I'm looking at you, TOMS booties that I'm convinced will make me look more hashtag live authentic) or placate our hurts (I'm looking at you, gold Anthropologie mug that I bought when I was in the middle of a fight with Hans), instead of resting in the love God has for us.

When we hoard up our money and possessions, we're disobeying God's commandment to take care of the poor. I remember one time when the Lord asked me to give my jacket to a homeless woman. I was mad as heck (it was a super cute jacket, y'all) but I did it anyways because I knew I had three more jackets at home and she probably didn't have any. I say that not to make myself sound holy, but to make a point: every extraneous coat I own could literally be on the back of someone who needs one.

When we're addicted to fashion or shopping or having the cutest home on Instagram, we're giving ourselves over to something besides God. We're becoming slaves to something besides the Cross. We're allowing an addiction to control our lives instead of Christ. Christ says "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life", which is a promise the addictions of this world so often make but never deliver. Why do we follow anything else?

None of this means that we ought to sell every last item we own (unless, of course, that's what the Lord is specifically telling you to do like He told this guy) and live in a cardboard box. To close, I'll quote Foster's chapter on simplicity...

I must hasten to add that God intends that we should have adequate material possession. There is misery today from a simple lack of provision just as there is misery when people try to make a life out of provision...Scripture declares consistently and forcefully that the creation is good and to be enjoyed.

What parts of creation can we enjoy with simplicity?

Rachel Nordgren Signature
Rachel Nordgren Signature

You can read all posts for the 31 Days series here.