On Simplicity

| | Comments (1)

Richard J. Foster is a Quaker who has quite the ecumenical outlook. He's written dozens of books on faith and spirituality, several of them dedicated to the study of devotional literature. In simplicity he talks at length about one of the most important and most difficult of spiritual disciplines.

from The Freedom of Simplicity
Richard J. Foster

If the first insight into simplicity that we receive from the Old Testament is radical dependence, the second is radical obedience. Perhaps nowhere is this more graphically seen than when Abraham was called upon to surrender his most priceless treasure--his son Isaac. God spoke, Abraham obeyed. No contingency plans, no skirting around the issue, no ifs ands or buts. Through a long painful process Abraham's life had been honed down to one truth--obedience to the voice of Yahweh. This "holy obedience" forms the grid through which the life of simplicity flows.

Radical obedience is possible only when God has our supreme allegiance. . . .

Today we need to hear again that God alone is worthy of our worship and obedience. The idolatry of affluence is rampant. Our greed for more dictates so many of our decisions. Notice how the fourth commandment of the Sabbath rest strikes at the heart of this everlasting itch to get ahead. We find it so very hard to rest when, by working, we can get the jump on everyone else. There is no greater need today than the freedom to lay down the heavy burden of getting ahead.

(from chapter 2)

Following on the theme of several days now--we must make a choice, life or death, heaven or hell, self or Other. "You cannot serve two masters for you will love one and hate the other. . ." The choice is all-or-nothing and that is why it is so difficult. Either we embrace God and His way entirely and experience a radical transformation in our lives, or we reject Him in one way or another. Embracing God is scary because we have been given so many distorted pictures of what that looks like. Strange cultists burn their possessions and go in live in cinder-block communes all for love of Him. Some look for His return in a spaceship. There are any number of distortion to the one truth. And these distortions exist because the worst thing that can happen to the prince of this world is that we should turn our eyes from him toward the One who saves.

But the reality of the matter is that this interior transformation may be propagated to outward things, but the matter of change is our bondage to those things that keep us from being who we are. We do not know our identities until we are identified in Christ. Sin and self-possession keep us away from that possibility.

We cannot begin a life of obedience unless and until we have made that commitment to God, from whom the strength and the grace of obedience flows. That only makes sense--how can we hope to be obedient if we repudiate the source of obedience?

And that ultimate obedience of Abraham is instructive--God does not wish us obedience to destroy us, but rather to strengthen us. He will not take from us all that He has given us, but he will invest it with new meaning. Life will not stop, but the kind of life-in-death we live in bondage to ourselves. The obedience of Abraham teaches us that God does not ask from us the impossible. He may test us, but He will always be with us so long as we trust in Him and rely upon Him.

Simplicity, obedience, charity, meekness, humility, the storehouse of all virtues becomes opened to us by a simple choice. We either choose to unify ourselves to Jesus Christ in as much as we can, relying entirely on grace and His help, or we choose to remain as we are. God will save in due time either way--but it is the difference of a life of Joy in Him or a life of bondage to self with some recourse to Him. It really isn't much of a choice, and yet it is so difficult to make!

Bookmark and Share


And when we stumble and fall, we get up again and continue on our course. The humiliation of our fall will make us humble unless pride creeps in when we start to make excuses for our faults, weaknesses and imperfections. Our faults may be very useful to us if they cure us of trusting in ourselves. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." When we feel weak, we seek strength from Him.

I like this newly-discovered blog more than a kitten likes cream!



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 8, 2005 8:11 AM.

St Blogs Awards was the previous entry in this blog.

Lent Posting is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll