simple

In the church we often carve out a chunk of time to preach on Christian stewardship. This can be a great topic to preach on, it is much more than just money. We usually say things like give 10% as a principle but if you really want to be crazy shoot for generosity and give something like 15%! And most people who sit in the audience feel like the pastor is trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip. The extra 5% just isn’t there. I wonder if pastors are dumbfounded as to why the offering plates are not doing a better job. Or maybe for a few weeks giving spikes but when you start preaching on something else the giving goes back down.
I wonder if what we really need to be preaching on is simple living as a way to advance the kingdom of God. If you think about it, simplicity is all over scripture. Zacchaeus follows Jesus and gives away half of his wealth and gives back four times the amount to anyone whom he may have swindled. Right after Pentecost the Christians gathered together and the Bible records, “None of them that anything he had was his own.” In other words they considered all of their possessions to be God’s and therefore open for use in His kingdom. Jesus calls his followers out of the seduction of the riches, in fact he tells a rich young ruler to sell all he has and give the money to the poor, then follow him. In the book of Acts, we see Christians selling their land and giving the money to the church for the poor. This kind of life is a radical departure from being a slave to money.
We might say, “sure that worked then, but not now” and I would agree. It doesn’t work so much now but I think I also know why. In the first century, churches weren’t building buildings; pastors weren’t driving nicer cars than their congregants. Pastors didn’t live in giant houses; they lived simple and humble lives. There was an understanding that if money were given to the church, it would be used for the poor and needy. It was a way to bring justice into the world. I wonder if tithing numbers are low because we live too complex of lives, maybe as a pastor I don’t model the simple life enough.

Richard Foster wrote a book called The Celebration of the Disciplines; in his chapter on simplicity Foster listed 10 suggestions that will help you live the simple life. This is not a formula but merely suggestions

1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status…
2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction within you…
3. Develop a habit of giving things away…
4. You don’t need the latest and greatest gadget…
5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them…
6. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.
7. Use healthy skepticism, don’t fall victim to “buy now pay later” schemes…
8. Obey Jesus’ instructions for plain and honest speech…
9. Reject anything that breeds oppression of others…
10. Shun anything that distracts you from ,“seeking first the kingdom of God.”

Share

Post to Twitter