Summary: Simple living is freeing based on Matthew 6
The Discipline of Simplicity
Mt 6: 19-21, 25, 31-34 May 11, 08
Today is not a Simple day.
-First, it’s MOTHER’S DAY and we’ve recognized mothers.
- It is also Pentecost Sunday and we’ve sung about the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to us.
-Then today is the Sunday that we’re introducing another
spiritual discipline, the fifth of 12 disciplines.
So far they have been MEDITATION, PRAYER, FASTING, STUDY- SIMPLICITY,
We are getting acquainted with these spiritual disciplines as a concrete way to help us grow deeper in our Christian lives. It also comes out of our desire to be renewed as a church.
The discipline for this month is SIMPLICITY- which is a very appropriate emphasis just before the church sale this coming Saturday. If your life is cluttered with excessive material possessions that you don’t need, consider hauling them here to make your life simplier. You will also be benefiting the fund that sends kids to church camp.
Living the simple life is one of the values of the Church of the Brethren. One congregation asked Church of the Brethren Annual Conference to address the concern in 1993. I want you to look at a brief excerpt of the query and then the Annual conference report 3 years later.
Because there is a need to revive and remember the Brethren heritage of nonconformity, plainness, and simple lifestyles as an alternative to the hurried excesses of modern life, and to educate ourselves, our children, and our new congregation in this basic tradition of our faith and stewardship....
We, First Church of the Brethren, Springfield, Illinois, convened in congregational business meeting April 18, 1993, petition the Annual Conference … to study ways to reemphasize the Brethren tradition of the simple life and to discern its full meaning for our time.
"Simplicity is the Way of Jesus, God’s gift to us. The New Testament and the Holy Spirit’s guidance have led the Brethren to practice this plain way. Simplicity is living not conformed to the world, but transformed by Christ. Jesus’ way of simplicity is at the heart of the gospel. It is central to our faith and practice, not optional. To make it less than central is sinful. To those who embark on this humble journey God provides joy and peace.
With Christ at the center, the Bible at one hand, and the witness of the community at the other, we face temptation with faith and courage. When tempted to accumulate wealth, we will hear the voice of Jesus proclaiming, Seek ye first the Kingdom. When tempted to hurry and be busy, we will hear our fore-bearers calling, Seek ye first the Kingdom. When we covet power, prestige, and possessions, we will join our sisters and brothers in the church singing, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God."
Simple living. Had you not heard this Annual conference response, you probably would be wondering, what in the world is spiritual about simple living? And how could simple living be a discipline to practice?
In your head you may be saying, “I thought simple living is what you have to endure if you don’t have any money.”
Or “Simple living is the unwelcome, restricting, necessary life style some of us have to practice to keep from drowning in debt. There’s nothing meritorious about it!”
There is another kind of simple living that is satisfying. Scripture is our text book for developing a simple life style that has purpose, satisfaction and honors Christ. Scripture will show us how simple living can free us from the bondage of anxiety, and of greed, and of miserliness. Richard Foster says, “Conformity to a sick society is to be sick.”
Jesus does not want us to be sick with debt or anxiety or greed. He calls us to live in a completely different realm of freedom and delight and that comes by centering our lives on the things that are above rather than on things, and things, and more things here on earth.
The master teacher’s words of wisdom to us are “SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.” And the passage we read from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mt emphasizes two kinds of simplicity- inner simplicity and outward simplicity.
Jesus addresses both with the command “Do not---“ then contrasts it with what we should do.
First, in v. 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.”
Today is Mother’s Day so I’ll address the women. Women, we need to hear Jesus’ speaking directly to us about our priorities. A survey reported that 93% of teenage girls named shopping as their favorite thing to do. (90% of boys like to go to the malls and watch the girls shop.) (from sermon on Sermon Central) Shopping can become an addiction just like other things can. One of you told me about a friend who is a Bargain- Sales shop-aholic and consequently has a house so full of stuff you can hardly walk through it.