Chapter 6: The Simplicity of Christ
The premise of this book is that Light has come into this world. We are currently working to better understand what that means to us in our daily lives. First we looked at the possibility of the renewed vitality and sense of adventure that is available to believers and unbelievers alike in the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Secondly we considered the difference a change in perspective can make for us all. In chapter three we looked at some examples in scripture of how God has given and continues to give a clearer picture of reality through supernatural means to those who desire Him.
In chapter four we returned to the very beginning in Genesis. There the eternal purpose of God was stated and began to unfold. After the disaster of sin, that purpose might have been forgotten or lost without the many promises given in God’s Word. We learned eventually that our Lord Jesus Christ was there all along but partially hidden for centuries. The time finally came for His Incarnation and His announcement that the Kingdom of God had come near to Israel. In the mean time God had called out a man and his descendants to prepare for this kingdom, to become signs and witnesses to God’s great plan for His creation. This great congregation would not only include Abraham’s natural descendants (the sands of the seashore) but also those of other races (the stars of the heavens) who believe in and follow Him.
The wonder of this marvelous family of God was barely introduced in chapter five. So much more should be discovered concerning it, but a firmer foundation must first be laid. I am sad to say from personal experience that it is all too easy to become distracted from the Center Piece of all creation — the Lord Jesus Christ! Because of sin and the Fall, we tend to become preoccupied more with our situation, our need. Of course God has great concerns for this as well. However, He has not forgotten His original plan. His plans to remedy our situation still include that original plan. In that plan He will be glorified through Christ and through His work of redemption and restoration in us!
An ancient confession of faith states this: “The chief end (or ultimate purpose) of humanity is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” For me, that is not simply a pious platitude. In fact, in one way it describes the dramatic change in my life I wrote about before. When I made seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness my number one priority, I returned to the primary purpose of my existence! Instead of running from God and ignoring His will for my life, I began running toward Him and greatly enjoying Him as never before! This is my desire for everyone, for us all to glorify God in our own unique way and in that way learn to enjoy our sweet, wonderful, awesome, powerful and holy God forever more!
It’s as simple as that! Well, wait a minute. I can hear you thinking about that word, “simple.” Have I been living in a cave or a bubble? Am I unaware of how complicated life on this planet has become? I assure you that this is not the case! Without getting too personal, you might be interested to know that I am in my seventh decade on this planet. I owned and operated my own business for 40 years. I have been married to the same girl for over 40 years now and have 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and so far 6 great-grandchildren! You decide for yourself if I have made it this far without gaining any sense of how complicated things can become!
In the first chapter of Genesis, things were quite simple. There was the man and the woman and God. The humans were given the responsibility of caring for the rest of creation, until the serpent began to tempt Eve. When their relationship with God was broken, things began to get complicated, more and more as time progressed. God’s plan was to reverse that process in Christ. It was the lie that introduced doubt in the mind of Eve concerning the goodness of God, and the suggestion that they would be better off on their own. This did not lead to freedom at all but to the bondage of sin, sickness, sorrow and death.
The way out of the lie was through the truth. 4,000 years later, Jesus would tell those who believed on Him,
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32
For many of us in our day, the first aspect of The Truth we need to know and believe is that there is One Eternal God Who created everything. (Genesis 1:1). After that we must face the fact that all of us without exception have denied His ways, His will, His purpose, His righteousness and holiness. In a word, we have all sinned and failed to glorify Him! (Romans 3:23). Next, the good news is that He sent His Son to save us by dying in our place which is the penalty for sin. (John 3:16, Romans 6:23). All of this would be meaningless if we do not accept the authority of these scriptures as coming from God and speaking clearly to what we have experienced in life. Using the words of Thomas Jefferson, they are “self-evident truths.”
Untold millions have reported that learning these truths, believing them and acting on them has led to true freedom and peace in their hearts and minds. However, Jesus also told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would be given unto them to lead them into all truth! I would suggest that being led into all truth is a life-long process. It is my concern that too many of us stop with believing in and receiving atonement for our sins. We forget that the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Why would we not want to fully understand that part of the Gospel? Did Jesus not spend the last 3 1/2 years of His life teaching and preaching this Gospel? Was not the Kingdom of God still on His mind after His resurrection? (Acts 1:3) Did not the great missionary and apostle Paul include teachings relating to the Kingdom of God in His ministry right up to the end of the record in Acts? (Acts 19:8, 28:23-31).
Maybe we still think it is all about us? Maybe what we want and desire can become more important than pleasing Him? When Paul had to deal with the problems of the Corinthian believers His solution was simple: He directed them back to the Simplicity of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:1-3 Paul likened the congregation of believers as a bride betrothed to her husband, Christ. She was not to direct her love and devotion to any other individuals, even her ministers. He reminded them of the trick the serpent played on Eve. His suspicion was that they were being tricked in the same way. They were distracted from their primary focus: their relationship with Christ and the simplicity of devotion to Him.
When Jude wrote in his letter urging his fellow believers to “earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all handed down to the saints,” he knew of the danger of distraction. Even as every married couple must devote themselves to keeping their love alive and fresh, every believer and every congregation of believers needs to be reminded of the great love that exists between them and their Lord as His bride. (Jude 1:3, Ephesians 5:25-33) The same serpent, deceiver and adversary is using the same tricks to this day. If he can confuse us and get our attention away from Christ, we all lose. We fail both to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. That leaves us with empty rituals, routines and the struggle to keep up the appearance of righteousness.
This terrible situation can be avoided, if we can become obsessed as Paul was to “know Him, and the power of His resurrection.” (Philippians 3:10) It is as simple as it is overwhelmingly mysterious. Think of it! The mighty, all powerful, creator of the universe left His glory, took on Himself the form of frail humanity, humbled Himself unto death — all because of love for you and I! Is that not enough to draw you into a greater knowledge of Him?
How can anyone possibly communicate what they have experienced in the wonderful presence of our God? Many have tried, from Job, to David, to Isaiah, to the apostles, Peter, John and Paul. The good news is that God Himself is involved in our communications! The same Holy Spirit that breathed upon, in and through those who wrote down their experiences, is at work when we hear their story! He is ready and willing to help us receive the joy of His awesome presence as well!
When King David finally was able to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, his heart was full. This was the symbol of God’s glorious presence among His people. He presented this psalm to Asaph and his fellow leaders of worship and praise:
1 Chronicles 16:8-12:
8 Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
9 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders.
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.
11 Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
12 Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,
Let me tell you that a heart of love, worship and adoration to the Lord is contagious! I pity those, who like David’s wife look upon others with scorn who allow themselves to become lost in their love and gratitude to Him, their King! Those who have come to cherish the free and unrestrained relationship with Jesus have something that no one can take from them! Not only that, but they have something within them that they can freely share with others. Let me tell you that time spent with individuals who truly love and know the Lord is priceless! I can confidently say that I have been transformed from the depths of my being as I looked upon the glowing faces of simple worshippers as they spoke of Him! Images from my childhood are stamped in my mind of my dear mother lifting up her hands with her eyes closed as she was swept away in His presence! Other times I witnessed her on her knees talking to Him, pouring out her heart in prayers for us her children. Jesus Himself is revealed through the lives of ordinary people who know and love Him!
Consider the apostle John, how in his letters he encouraged the believers that they could know Jesus even as He knew Him, face to face!
1 John 1:1-4:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
In no way are we to settle for anything less than personal fellowship with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This privilege was purchased for us at great cost — the cost of the offering of Jesus on the Cross of shame and humiliation! When people are told the way of salvation through His Cross and they believe it, they are forgiven and saved. When they are told that He is a God that heals and they believe it, they can be healed. When they are told that He will baptize and fill them with the Holy Spirit and they believe it, they are filled. When He is presented as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, they can believe and surrender to Him as their Lord. When they hear and receive the revelation of the Kingdom of God, they can believe and enter into a entirely new dimension of life, while sitting with Him in heavenly places!
Most certainly I encourage you to learn all the stories of the bible. We need also to know all the great teachings and themes, like redemption, grace, faithfulness and the practice of our faith. The bible is filled with practical wisdom to guide us in our everyday life. But I pray that in all this we do not forget the reason for it all — it is to know Him, our Lord and Savior, to love Him and by that love be empowered to love even our enemies!
Today I pray that we can continue to keep Jesus as the center and also as the circumference of our thoughts, discussions and activities. May our love for Him overshadow everything we do!