(Aside) Shakers, an example of taking a teaching to an extreme
The Shakers are a religious society that split off from Quakerism in the late 1700s. They chose to focus on a few “key” concepts from the scriptures, and strove to “perfect” themselves in them. One of these was to live a simple life and have a simple faith in God, Their worship was active, and included congregational dancing (think like the Virginia Reel or the Electric Slide), and the song “Simple Gifts” was a song sung to such a dance, sung while everyone was doing their part of the dance, and in the end, everyone “comes out right” because they trusted in the process, symbolizing their trust that God will make things right if we follow his will and do the dance he gives us. We can perhaps learn some things from their example, but need to keep in mind that they are not a perfect examples due to their limited focus on just parts of God's word. They can be an inspiring example of how a simple faith is possible, even if we don’t copy all of their lifestylesBack to top
The biggest foundation for this Discipline is seeing that we have a sinful habit of putting “things” in our life, that we let get to be “more important” to us than a relationship with God, and the most effective way to remove that is to just get rid of those things from our life.
Simplifying our life, and removing a dependency on things that distract us from seeking God, brings us Freedom. Simplifying our life frees us of the pull of the material world. It frees us from the "need" for us to make something of ourselves, and to let God make us into what he wants us to be. We can stop looking for status from men, and experience the status that God gives to us. It helps us find a Center in God.
And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,
-- Exodus 20:1-4
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
-- Luke 16:13
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
--- Mathew 6:33
Anything that gets in the way of you seeking first God and his ways. Anything that gets in the way is best to get rid of. That includes "rules" about needing to get rid of things, if those become more important than seeking God, they have become idolatry. Don't seek Simplicity to find God, but seek God first, and Simplify as he directs. (paraphrase from Søren Kierkegaard)Back to top
Guidelines to Simplicity
Richard Foster gives a set of basic "rules" (but don't make the rules into "Law") to guide our path to live a simple life that seeks God first.
- Buy things for usefulness, not their status.
- Reject anything that produces an "addiction" in you. Difference between psychological need and an addiction.
- Develop a habit of giving things away.
- Refuse the propaganda of modern gadgetry
- Enjoy things without owning them.
- Develop an appreciation for the creation,
- Have a healthy skepticism at "Buy Now, Pay Later".
- Obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech. (And don't promise to do what you can't honestly do).
- Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
- Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
Simple Gifts YouTube VideoBack to top