Monday, November 30, 2020

Simplicity as Success

One of the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom so many years was access to resources and materials. My brain was ready to learn and grow even while my body was spent.

Book after book, page by page, with no particular destination or goal, I devoured thought-provoking, otherwise difficult reading. Hour after hour I listened to Christian radio and speakers. Thoughts, questions, and applications stirred in my mind as I scrubbed floors, folded laundry, tended to children and country chores.

J.I. Packer's, A Quest for Godliness, was one of the most impactful. Of the words and thoughts which escape me, the message I still carry is: keep it simple. The more common and everyday our speech, the more effective we are in communicating the truth of the gospel. This was Paul's example:

And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come as someone superior in speaking ability or wisdom, as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I also was with you in weakness and fear, and in great trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of mankind, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Ironically, J.I. Packer is not known for his simple presentation; in today's society Puritans aren't either. But that was their focus and goal--to preach Christ simply, with purity and grace.

That was my goal as I wrote, Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse. With a background in elementary education and a heart for individuals who struggle to learn and read, my goal is other's learning. Teaching is evidenced, not by one who teaches, but what is learned. As future educators, we were taught that the measure of our effectiveness was the success of our students.

When individuals use code words, acronyms, high vocabulary, or share a complex/confused presentation, it confuses the listener. That is when one must assess the goal--Is it to be thought of as important, intellectual, and knowledgeable? Or is the goal effective, accessible information? With God's help, our goal should be the simplicity of Jesus Christ and His finished work.

Our value, worth, and identity are not measured by our teaching, words, or following, but by Christ Himself. May He guide and bless the sincerity of our words and interactions with others for the sake of the gospel--and their very lives.

For though I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may gain more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the Law, I became as one under the Law, though not being under the Law myself, so that I might gain those who are under the Law; to those who are without the Law, I became as one without the Law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might gain those who are without the Law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak; I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. So they do it to obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way as not to run aimlessly; I box in such a way, as to avoid hitting air; but I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:19-27)