This is a rather radical departure from what I normally post on this blog, but the point of it was to have a space where I can post things without needing anyone else to read them (especially people I actually know). It’s my own space not anyone else’s, so I’m going to post it anyway.
I’ve been thinking a lot at the moment about the Christian discipline of simplicity (it’s not exclusively Christian, but I think that way it works out is different when God is in the mix). I believe that there are many things in the world that are good – health is good; beauty is good; music is good; delicious food is good. However, I don’t think they are the best. God is better than any of these things, and the joy that comes from him far superior. I tend to be fairly focussed on my own pleasure, whether that’s eating chocolate, making and wearing gorgeous things, spending all the money on myself, etc. While I don’t think any of those things are in themselves bad, I think that I am far too self-focussed as a whole and those things encourage me to be so. Also, I am doing things for myself that so many of my brothers and sisters don’t have the chance to do, having things they can’t have, which is unfair and just not right. (note: I use the phrase “brothers and sisters” to remind myself that humanity, and especially the fellowship of believers, are all connected, all equal in God’s eyes, which then reminds me that indulging myself is shameful when they don’t have that chance).
A few things I’m going to be thinking about in this time of simplicity:
– the injunction in Micah to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”.
– my consuming habits. Am I buying luxuries for myself? I shouldn’t be. When I have so much and others have so little, I shouldn’t buy more. Instead I plan to give myself an allowance per week, spending what I must and giving the rest to the poor I encounter or to my church.
-relatedly: what I eat. Food is important to the body, but decadence isn’t, and so I will seek to keep my meals simple (while fulfilling my nutritional needs of course). I intend also to fast sometimes, to remind myself of what is truly important, and also of what my brothers and sisters around the world suffer daily.
– give with a glad heart. This will encompass my normal giving to charity as well as gifts to friends and neighbours – something I would like to do is bake or cook for other people more often. It is actually something I love doing, so definitely I should be able to do so. But I need to learn not to resent giving.
– my clothing. This one is especially hard – if you look at my blog at all, you see that I love making and wearing beautiful things. While I don’t think this is bad in itself, I think it encourages wrong thinking in myself. Like a peacock, I’m asking for attention and praise. So to encourage a focus away from myself and towards God, I think it would be good for me to move towards wearing plainer clothes, which are less about me being beautiful on the outside. I’m not entirely sure if this will work, so we’ll have a trial phase with just a couple of plain skirts in the rotation, which may or may not develop into a full-time thing.
– the all-important prayer. God is important to my life, and I need to make a space for him at the centre. I want to spend more time in prayer so that he can speak into my life and my relationship can grow stronger.
– “feed my sheep”. While I was praying recently, I said the words “I love you, Lord”, and the reply came back “feed my sheep”, what Jesus said to Peter when he said he loved him. This dovetails nicely with Jesus’ statement that when you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner and the sick, etc, you do so to him. I don’t quite know how this plays out in my city and my life – you don’t see huge numbers of homeless on the street, that I’ve noticed – but I want to work it out so I can follow the command of my Lord.