Ah, the simple life. No, I don’t mean watching that sad excuse for a television series. I actually meant leading the simple life.
Life in 21st century America seems so complex, so frantic, a zillion things to do and worry about. Jobs, money, relationship, stuff— so many things that seem to clamor for my attention, screaming out “Do this! Do that! You’ve got to work on ME! Put ME first!”
But then again, life for a 1st century pious Jew was pretty complicated too. They had literally hundreds of laws which they believed they had to follow to gain eternal life. Maybe one of them was thinking of simplifying his life when he asked this question to Jesus:
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)
“Do this, and you will live.” Wait a minute there…. Just two things? Love God and love others? Life just has to be more complicated than that. Or….. does it?
I have gotten into the habit of voicing a simple prayer from my heart when I wake up and on occasion throughout the day, “I love you, Father. I love you, Jesus. I love you, Spirit.” Yesterday my mind shot back at me, “Oh, my life is WAY more complicated than that. Just love God? I’ve got lots more stuff to do than that.”
But maybe, just maybe, everything else in life falls into place if I simply love God and love others. Jesus hinted at this in Matthew 6:33– “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” C. S. Lewis was fond of quoting, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in; put second things first and we lose both first and second.”
Love really does come first. The Bible makes it clear that we are lives are worthless without it. Read how The Message translation paraphrases 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:
If I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
“No matter what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” Can’t get more plain than that. But can we really live this way, to let the other zillion concerns go and just love? Well, why not? In his book Crazy Love Francis Chan states,
God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love. According to God, we are here to love. Not much else really matters.
“Not much else really matters.” Think about it. I want to really wrap myself around that truth, that only love really matters, and live it day by day. If I do, I think that I will not only be living a simple life, but a very blessed one as well.