There has been one nagging flaw in my life that has been especially apparent to me in the last year: lack of simplicity.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? Luke 9:23-25
We are called to simplicity. It is a spiritual discipline to deny all that the world has to offer in exchange for the greater blessings that are found in a life in Christ. We are called to a life of singularity of goal: take up our cross daily and follow Christ. Because it’s hard to hold anything else when you’re carrying a cross.
My closets and schedules and career goals and relationships and spiritual pursuits are cluttered with unnecessary things. So many things that are wasteful, unproductive, and demanding. So, for 2015 (and, ideally, beyond) I have one pursuit: simplicity.
Materially I want to get rid of the stuff I don’t use or need and stop buying things I don’t use or need. I like to think of myself as an un-materialistic person, but as I look at all the things I have, all the things I buy, all the things I never use, and my inexplicable connection to all of these things, I realize that I am blind to my own deep-seated materialism. This year I want to clear out the non-essentials and start thinking about what I buy. Do I need what I buy? How does it benefit me and others? How does – or does it at all – advance the kingdom of God?
Financially I want my spending to be simple. I don’t want to invest in things that are ultimately futile. Not to say that I won’t spend it on plenty of frivolity that is relationally or personally valuable – but I want to think before I spend and ask myself how it achieves my one goal: carrying the cross behind Christ.
Physically I want my health to be simple so that I can become a person that is a positive reflection of Christ and someone who reflects gratitude and respect for the body and opportunities that he has extended to me. As we begin to have access to more and more information about the food we’re putting in our bodies, I realize how unhealthy all of the processed food is and how thoughtless I am when it comes to what, when, and how much I eat. I want to spend more time (and more money as well) on food options that benefit my body, my community, and socially responsible businesses that value the simplicity that is found in healthy, organic, and sustainably grown food. It doesn’t get simpler than a carrot.
I want my exercise to be simple as well. I don’t want to dedicate my time to short-term plans, diets, and regimens that I hate, that I usually give up on, and that ultimately don’t work. I want my exercise to be simple, something I enjoy doing, something that becomes part of my daily routine, and something that is effective.
Relationally I want to strive toward simplicity in my friendships, my other relationships, my service, and my hospitality. I don’t want to keep friends that aren’t leading me toward Christ and I want to cultivate those that are. I don’t want to spend all my time comparing myself to others or being jealous of others, but rather taking up my cross and walking alongside others, realizing that those I walk with are headed to the same goal and we are charged to help each other get there. I want my service to be simple and sustainable – benefiting others in the way that God has called me to do, in a way that reveals his love and empowers those I serve. I want to reignite hospitality in my life, opening my home, my time, and my resources to others so that others may see my walk toward Christ and follow me.
My time has the biggest need for simplicity. I want to make a schedule for my time to ensure that none of it is wasted pursuing other goals (or no goal at all). I want all of my time to be dedicated to Christ and pursuing those things that are most important.
Spiritually I want to return to simplicity. In the past few years my study of the Bible has become incredibly academic, and I often feel that my relationship with Christ has required something new and flashy and deep and profound. I want to return to the simple teachings of Christ as I develop an increasingly complex relationship with him. I want to return to prayer, to study, to meditation, to fasting, and the other simple disciplines that Christ has instructed us to live by.
What it all comes down to is: What am I living for? Am I striving to gain the world or to follow Christ? Does how I spend my time and money, how I treat myself and others, how I worship and pursue God reflect that one goal?
I have a few specific “resolutions” that I will strive to share throughout the year as God continues to convict me of a need of simplicity and reveals opportunities for me to simplify my life.
May the KISS principle be with you all in 2015.