Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Simple Life

On Wednesday evenings, I am leading a class through a discussion of Richard Foster's book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Maturity. The book was given to me and my friends in the Class of '93 by the faculty at Harding and has been a wellspring of insight and depth through the years.

Last night, we discussed what on the surface seems like a pipe-dream in our contemporary culture. Foster's chapter on the spiritual discipline of simplicity is rooted in capturing Jesus's words in Matthew 6.25-34, i.e. the simple life is to be freed from the bondage of worry and anxiety to live abundantly through trusting God to provide.

Foster lays out ten principles that help us simplify our lives:

1) Buy things for their utility rather than their status – Stop trying to impress people with your stuff and impress them with your life.

2) Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you – Simplicity is freedom so refuse to be a slave to anything but God.

3) Develop a habit of giving things away.

4) Refuse to propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry – avoid the seduction of that "newer is better."

5) Learn to enjoy things without owning them – Don't buy the illusion that says: ownership=more control=more pleasure.

6) Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation (Psalm 24.1).

7) Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.

8) Obey Jesus’s instructions about plain, honest speech (Mat 5.37).

9) Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.

10) Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God – it's easy to lose focus in the pursuit of good, legitimate things…but never let those good pursuits become your god.