Nobody progresses far on any spiritual path without keeping a discipline of simplicity. The more stuff we have to defend, maintain, and organize, and the more harassed we are by complex finances and cluttered schedules, the less room we have for reality. Either our prayer life and passion for the gospel gradually push out our involvement with cruising the internet, hanging out in the mall, or obsessing over the housework, or vice versa. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “You cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Mammon is not just money and the love of money; it’s the creeping worldliness that gets its claws into our whole lives until it takes us over completely.
The practice of simplicity is a matter of watching our boundaries to see that our lives are protected for God (Leviticus 20:26) – we are not to let the Temple turn into a high street.
In a high-tech world of mass production and growth economics, where multitasking is admired and everyone you know has a diagnosis of stress or depression, maintaining a discipline of simplicity is foreign territory, but without it no one can follow Jesus.
How does your time budget work out? Is there enough allocation for fun, for learning and growing, for home and family, for prayer and study, for broadening your horizons, for rest and peace and thinking, and to spend time in nature? How is the balance? Does one aspect of commitment crowd out the others?
How are your finances? Are you driven by debts or enmeshed in complex investments? Do you worry about money? Do you spend more than you should? If all is going well, how did you find, and how do you keep, that balance?
Are you a hoarder or a chucker-out? What are your systems of organizing what you have? How easy would you find it to walk away from your possessions as the first disciples did? What would you miss most if the house burned down?
O God of life and hope and freedom, give us the wisdom, courage, and vision to hold fast to a discipline of simplicity, so that we may make and keep space for the abundant life you promised would be ours in Jesus, in whose holy name we pray; Amen.