Many of us have some idea of what Christianity or Christians look like to us. "Hypocrites" is probably the most common word I hear associated with Christianity...and I get it! Christians are imperfect...sinners...is our word for it (not meant to be an excuse for it). We recognize that we need God's grace. We recognize that He is the only perfect being...our Creator...our King. God + love...that is our mandate. And oh, how I long for "love" to be the most common word associated with Christianity!
The inward reality of Christian simplicity involves what Foster calls a "joyful life of carefree unconcern for possessions". This statement almost takes my breath away. I stop often to contemplate what that could really mean or look like in my life. How can I get some of that?...and do I even really want it?
This joyful life does not mean that we don't value possessions or care for what we have. It involves ::
-viewing our possessions as gifts from God. We live by grace + recognize that we are dependent on God.
-trusting that what we have is cared for by God. Simplicity gives us freedom to trust God.
-believing what we have can be made available to others.
The outward flow of this inward liberation can be practiced joyfully in these ways:
-buy things for usefulness...not status. Stop buying things to impress people. Impress them with a life well-lived.
-reject things that create an addiction. Learn to distinguish need from desire. A psychological need for cheerful surroundings is valid (yay). Simplicity is freedom...not slavery.
-develop a habit of giving things away. De-accumulate. Masses of things complicate life.
-refuse to be "propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry."
-enjoy things without owning them.
-develop a deeper appreciation of creation. Get outside.
-be skeptical of buying things on credit. Credit leads to bondage.
-use plain + honest speech. Follow through. Seek to inform + illuminate rather than impress + obscure.
-reject anything that breeds the oppression of others...and further...let us break the yoke of oppression.
-shun anything that distracts from Christlike living (with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness + self-control). It is easy to lose focus, even while pursuing good things.
Simplicity can sound a lot like austerity...a list of rules, but the words that stand out here are joy, freedom, liberation! It's a gift to be simple!
Like a beautiful closed loop cycle, our inward focus fuels the outward flow + in turn the outward practice deepens the inward shift. I strive to loosen my grip on "things" + at the same time allow God to help loosen things' grip on me. It involves trust + right alignment of heart, soul + mind.
I love that there are practical principles that one can take from many spiritual teachings. It seems to point to some inherent (or divine) truths that humans have come to recognize regardless of time + place. :)