I absolutely LOVE being a dad! My kids are so much fun…it doesn’t even feel fair sometimes, they’re so awesome. And it is such a blast watching them blossom and grow, and helping to shape them. Some of the sweetest moments in my life come from the simplest interactions with my kids…For instance, not long ago, my daughter and I made it official that we are BFFs (Best Friends Forever), and she proceeded to call me BFF for the rest of the day. It made me so happy! And my son and I laughed and laughed all day long. It was beautiful.
As a parent, I find that I learn just as much from my children as they probably learn from me. They look at everything in life with an innocence and simplicity that puts a huge smile on my face, and I know it brings even more joy to the Lord…God wants us always to come to him like little children, which includes coming to him in total simplicity.
Now, the commandment to “be simple” is not something you’ll find in the Bible. You won’t see it in the 10 Commandments or in the Beatitudes. But what we do see biblically all the time is God calling us his “children.” And in Matthew 19, Jesus told his disciples that entrance into the kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who come to him like little children. Childlike faith is usually what we think of when we hear this – the ability to love and trust without fear or restraint. And that is part of what Jesus is talking about here. But he’s also talking about childlike simplicity…And without simplicity, it’s hard to have childlike faith.
Simplicity counteracts one of the processes that happens in our lives automatically as we age, (if we don’t stand guard over our childlikeness), and that’s complexity. As we grow up (i.e., “mature”), we have a tendency to become more and more complicated. Our thinking becomes more complex and oftentimes more convoluted. The pride of life becomes further ingrained in how we see the world, and it seeks to keep us focused on ourselves. In the process, we lose our ability to experience pure joy and fearless love…because in our minds we allow every relationship and every decision to involve suspicion and fear, or a desire to control and manipulate others’ responses to us.
Now, just because I’m telling you we have to be simple does not mean I am advocating a lack of understanding or sophistication either….It’s actually the opposite! Living in simplicity involves operating in wisdom and discernment…and at the same time, it means we have to hold all of our experiences, education, and life details with the simple love, joy, faith, and innocence of children.
I’ve been so convicted lately about how this lack of simplicity has crept up in my own heart as I’ve aged…It’s especially apparent to me as it’s reflected back in the mirror of my children. When I’m gauging my life from a perspective of too much complexity, I see that my kids begin to mimic how I live. They watch me and imitate me in ways I’m barely even aware of sometimes, and that’s super humbling as a dad. So lately, in the evenings after the house quiets down, I’ve been praying that God would make me “simply be simple.”
So I’m sharing this with you today, as someone who’s currently learning how to be simple in my own life…In our complexity, we cause people to take pause from what should come naturally. Everything becomes convoluted and lacks coherence. When we are simple, things make sense. People know where they stand and why. People are free to be loved by us and to love us in return. Simple people trust. Simple people love. Simple people are free.
And God has already given us all we need to increase in childlike simplicity. Jesus has already re-branded us with new identities. He calls us children and friends. His life and finished work seal our entrance into God’s family as children and heirs. Jesus has completed the work, and by His Spirit we can walk in it.
And as we simply live simply, we help others do the same. In our simplicity, others are free to trust and love as well. Our lives lead the way for others to flee complexity and walk in simplicity. So today…let’s simply be simple.