Summary: A sermon based on Richard Foster’s Book Celebration of Discipline pages 85 to 89. Nothing new here but a source of illustrations
The Simple Life
Sermon for 2/6/2005
The Simple Life is a totally unscripted series starring spoiled socialites, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie! During the show’s first season, Paris and Nicole got a reality check when they learned what it was really like to live among the middle-class as they moved from their posh Beverly Hills pads to the small town of Altus, Arkansas (population 817) for a one-month stay. Paris and Nicole were horribly inept at their jobs, which were the first they had ever had-including gigs at a dairy farm and a fast-food joint. But pretty soon they were up to their old tricks, picking up guys and causing mischief along the way, all in an effort to spice up the lives of their small town family and to win the hearts of the town’s simple, kind-hearted residents. In the end, the girls survived the challenge, and most certainly served to prove that you can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl!
A. City Slickers with Billy Crystal. Mitch, played by Billy Crystal and his two friends, Ed and Phil, go to a dude ranch for a vacation. The old cowboy Curley in the movie says, “"Nothin’ like bringin ’ in a herd," “You city folk -you worry too much. You spend about 50 weeks a year gettin’ knots in your rope, and think 2 weeks up here will untie ’em."
B. If we could just get back to those good old days, the days of the pioneers, the days before cities, the days before e-mail, the days when everyone lived in a mud hut and lived like African Bushmen.
C. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. There is a group of boys that are shipwrecked without any adults and it shows how these boys live and survive. After killing one boy, the ending scene is where the boys are hunting down another boy, Ralph, to sacrifice him to an idol. Thankfully, a boat comes to rescue them and that is the end of the book.
D. (Titus 3:3 NIV) At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. (Titus 3:4 NIV) But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, (Titus 3:5 NIV) he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
E. Without Jesus Christ, no matter what circumstances one is placed in it will all be the same problems, the same sins and the same misery.
F. Richard Foster in his book “Celebration of Disciple” begins by talking about the inward disciplines of a Christian: meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. We have to start there. Then he begins to talk about the outward disciplines and the first outward discipline for a Christian that he discusses is simplicity.
G. He talks about how there are two extremes when it comes to simplicity. On one hand we have the people who believe that simplicity is not important. On the other hand, we have the people who believe that simplicity is the mark of a good Christian. Usually the marks they use to measure this simplicity are not godly. If we wear this kind of clothes or buy that kind of house or eat this kind of food or drive this kind of car, then we are living simply or not living simply. Abuses on both sides.
H. We need to get back to the teachings of Jesus. Read Matthew 6:25-33.
I. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. The main thing for a Christian is to seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness of Christ’s Kingdom. Nothing comes before the Kingdom of God, including the desire for a simple lifestyle.
J. Simplicity itself becomes idolatry when it becomes the main thing over seeking the kingdom. Focusing upon the Kingdom produces an inward character that makes simplicity possible. Nothing else can be central. The desire to get out of the rat race cannot be central, the injustices of the distribution of the world’s wealth cannot be central, the concern for the environment cannot be central. Seeking God’s Kingdom and seeking after Christ is the main thing.
K. When we look at the teachings of Jesus here we see a wonderful description of how to be free from anxiety. By seeking after Christ and his kingdom, we are free from the concern of possessions.
L. Neither the greedy nor the miserly know this freedom. It has nothing to do with abundance of possessions or their lack. It is an inward spirit of trust. The fact that a person is living without things is no guarantee that he or she is living in simplicity. Paul taught us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and I have discovered that often those who have it the least love it the most. It is possible for a person to be forced into a life style of simplicity and to be filled with anxiety. Conversely, wealth does not bring freedom from anxiety. Sometimes it makes our anxiety worse.