The Spiritual Practice of Simplicity

Tomorrow I have the opportunity to help launch a new series at Christ Community called Soul Care. I'm excited to serve people like you and me who might just be a little too busy for our own good. We're going to focus on three areas during this series. Simplicity, Sabbath and Silence.

When it comes down to it, Simplicity is a learned practice like all the other disciplines. Once we get the right idea of what we're aiming for, it has to actually work in daily life. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount to get our priorities on track first. Choose where your treasure will be (heaven is a better option than earth). Choose who you'll give your ultimate allegiance to (God is a better master than Money). Keep your spiritual vision clear (materialism mars your spiritual perception).

In her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Calhoune give us the following outline of spiritual practices and processing questions (I'll only have time to mention a few in my message):

Practices

  1. Assess the things and activities that keep life complicated - work to simplify them.
  2. Set priorities that flow from loving God above all else.
  3. Downsize possessions.
  4. Cut back on shopping and discretionary spending.
  5. Eat simple foods!
  6. Enjoy simple pleasures that require no expense.
  7. Remove distractions and preoccupation with things.

Spend some time reflecting on questions like these:

  1. In what ways are you susceptible to the entitlement mentality of our age?
  2. How has the "more is better" mentality shaped you?
  3. Do you envy those who have more things or more opportunities than you?
  4. How much of your identity is wrapped up in what you own?
  5. Who are you without your possessions?
  6. What is it like for you to give away something that you still want and like?

Here are a few Spiritual Exercises she suggests:

  1. Ask God to help you speak the simple truth.
  2. Uncomplicate your life by choosing a few areas in which you wish to practice letting go. Clean out a room, closet or your garage.
  3. Intentionally limit the number of your choices. Do you really need 6 varieties of breakfast cereal? Hundreds of TV channels? Four tennis rackets? Etc. Does it feel freeing to give up choices or does want or envy surface?
  4. If someone admires something of yours give it away. Find out just how attached to your things you are.
  5. Make a list of every gadget you have in your home from the dishwasher to the lawnmower. Which could you share? Which could you get rid of an not really miss?
  6. Where have you complicated your life with God?
  7. Practice giving no excuses, no apologies, no spontaneous yeses. Discern what you truly need to apologize for.