“The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” – Psalm 27:4
When Charles Spurgeon was on his deathbed, he told those who had gathered with him: “As time has passed on, my theology has grown more and more simple. It is simply this, “Jesus loves me!” The Christian life is not meant to be complex. There is a blessed kind of simplicity for the Christian who understands the love and grace of God. You find glimpses of this kind of simplicity expressed in Scriptures like Psalm 27:4.
It certainly sounds good to live simply in this day and age of seemingly endless complexity. To not wake up with a thousand different priorities and things to do running through your mind. To be able to sleep soundly knowing that your heavenly Father never does. Sometimes we make following Jesus far more complicated than it really needs to be. We lose sight of a certain simplicity that comes with knowing Him and being known by Him. It is relatively easy to complicate the whole following Jesus thing. I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor, but who really is my neighbor? Certainly not the guy next door…right? I know I’m supposed to treat others the way I would want them to treat me, but what about the people who treated me badly? Basically, we justify and rationalize. We make ourselves the exceptions and define the parameters for how much or how little of what Jesus says actually applies to us. Sometimes we spend more time coming up with loopholes on not to obey Jesus than we do at simply doing what He says. As a result, we make things more complicated than they need to be.
On a few occasions, Jesus is asked what the greatest of all the commandments is – if He could boil down the whole counsel of God into its purest and simplest form, what would it be? His consistent response is two-fold: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-40).
That’s it. Love God. Love People. Our serving, our willingness to forgive, our ability to trust His promises in the difficult seasons, all of these things and more are done in direct proportion to the extent that we love God above all and love others with all. Nothing else matters if we don’t do this first.
This is not to say that the Christian life can’t sometimes get complicated and messy. It most assuredly can and will. While Jesus has been very clear and simple in what He expects and demands of us, He never once promised that our obedience in those things would always lead to easy or comfortable places – as a matter of fact, He says more often than not things will get pretty difficult (John 16:33). But the gospel remains simple: Love God above all today. Love others with all today. Then do it again tomorrow.
- What do you find most difficult about the Christian life?
- What can we do this week to keep it simple… love God and love others?