It seems to me that we 21st century western Christians have a problem. We have 2000 years of church history, church councils, schisms, reformations and counter-reformations. We have millions of words written expounding on every passage of Scripture. We have thousands of books detailing our various doctrines, positions and dogma. We have established the boundaries of what is biblical and what is not. We have identified those who are with us and those who are not. We have accumulated to ourselves traditions and practices following in the footsteps of our spiritual forefathers.
To be fair, this is not all bad. There have been men and women of great and genuine faith pointing the way to greater faith. Their lives are an inspiration and encouragement in learning how to live out the Christian walk. The problem is that all this stuff – all the words – has so encrusted the simple, powerful message of grace that we have lost sight of the Messenger. We are more concerned with ensuring that we have all our doctrinal ducks in a row than we are about presenting Christ to a needy neighbor.
It feels like we have to navigate through a forest of beliefs or juggle the nuances of interpretations to make sure we don’t step off track. We genuinely want to believe the truth and follow Christ purely, but who do we listen to? Who do we believe? Who is right or more right? It’s all very exhausting. I completely understand. I have spent my life reading and studying church history, Christian doctrines, systematic theologies, cults, apologetics and more. All as part of an effort to correctly understand and know Truth. And all of it invaluable for me in the working out of my calling, however it is so easy to get lost in all of it. It can deplete faith instead of renew faith. Shouldn’t there be a better way?
The apostle Paul addresses this very problem in his second letter to the Corinthian church. He says,
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (ESV)
For Paul the most important message was “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Trying to figure out which rules to follow or who is more right or struggling to make sense of all the possible options for becoming a better Christian or keeping up with the latest best seller is really just trying to rest in the “wisdom of men.” Instead how about returning to the simplicity of our faith – Christ came, died, rose again and saved me into a relationship with God. What better demonstration of the power of God can there be? What else do I need to know?
My deepest desire right now is to simplify my faith. Not that I discard all I have learned and studied over the years, but to make sure that it all doesn’t overwhelm simplicity. I choose to uncomplicate my spirit – remove the encumbrances of men’s wisdom that weigh me down and take flight into His wisdom. I commit to make the focus of my life – emotional, physical, relational and spiritual – to be Jesus Christ and him crucified. Instead of pursuing a frantic search for the “next secret to living a victorious Christian life”, I will rest my faith. Rest in the demonstrated power of God. Rest in a simpler faith.
Join me and rest.