Day #21: Friday, March 20

Netflix Weekend

Messiah: Episode 5

Clip: 7:50 – 10:15

Old Testament: Isaiah 43:1-7

New Testament: Matthew 6:25-33

Practice: Simplicity

Music: “Seek ye First;” “Isaiah 43” and “Oceans” by Hillsong

            “Who could know what’s next?” How troubling that question is! It is so easy for us to get obsessed with knowing what’s next. It must have been jarring when Jesus told the disciples, “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels or the Son of Man himself. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36 NLT). A future of uncertainty creates worry, concern, and anxiety. It can create panic at the stock exchange and promote economic instability. It’s interesting how contagious anxiety is. International conflicts create instability in economies, which makes gas prices rise, which makes people afraid to spend money – and on and on the cycle goes.

            All of this magnifies the power of Jesus words: “Do not worry about tomorrow.” Eugene Peterson’s translation of Matthew 6:33 says: “Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” Anxiety is an epidemic in our culture. From clinically diagnosed psychiatric disorders, to a general civic unrest fueled by uncertainty, anxiety rules our day. It is this sentiment that Jesus speaks the truth of contentment and faith. If Jesus is who he says he is (a truth we’ve been pondering throughout Lent), then what do we have to fear? What do we have to be anxious about?

            Our culture of excess and abundance creates new things to worry about. Retirement, insurance, health care, politics – any one of these things can create a panic in us. So much uncertainty, so many unanswered questions, such an unknown future – and all of it important stuff! But even to these things Jesus says, “Don’t worry.” Today, take some time to consider how you might be able to simplify your life. Anxiety largely comes as a result of the complexities of our lives.

            In his classic book on the spiritual disciplines, Richard Foster writes, “The Bible challenges nearly every economic value of contemporary society.”[1] This isn’t so much a polemic against today’s economic foundations (though it is that to some degree) as much as it is a call to recognize the forces that draw us away from simplicity. He offers these ten principles to help us pursue a life of simplicity. Read over them and consider which of these can help simplify your life and faith. Each principle is worthy of reflection.[2]

10 Rules toward Simplicity

  1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status. 
  2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away
  4. Refused to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.[3]
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation of the creation.
  7. Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now pay later” schemes.[4]
  8. Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech.
  9. Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
  10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.

[1] Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 1988 ed., (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1978), 82.

[2] Ibid., 90-95.

[3] He wrote this over 40 years ago – imagine the temptation that we have today.

[4] Hard for us to even imagine such a world today!

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