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By: Henry Logan
Simplifying our external life is easy, the difficulty is simplifying our inner lives. It is easier to shed the material goods and worldly activities of our lives than it is to shed the internal things of our lives e.g. our desires, our sin, all the inner snares that prevent us from knowing and serving Christ. We live in a society and work for employers which encourage, cajole, and seduce us into pursuing lifestyles and patterns of behaviour which will ultimately lead us down the path to our own hell, and are worthless.
Ambition, self interest and ‘success’ are promoted as things to pursue and thereby attain ‘happiness’ at the cost of our spiritual being- ‘what does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his immortal soul’. But happiness is fleeting, it is there only when we are getting what we want, or things are going our way ,and it needs constant feeding in order to be sustained. This means pursuing better jobs, salaries, bigger house, status, etc….. What we are not invited to do by society is to pursue contentment i.e. being content with what God has given us, where God has placed us and enjoying the fruits of that life as it is, which is what God wants us to do. By being content with what is sufficient for our real needs, we can begin to extinguish the fires of desire and greed within us as we make use of our time in emptying ourselves of all that prevents us from knowing God and making ourselves fit vessels for the Lord to dwell in and lead us to establish the Kingdom. But to establish the Kingdom around us, we must first establish the kingdom within us and let the fire of the Holy Spirit blaze through us burning up the dross and sin that lies within us all and keeps us from fulfilling our role in serving the Lord.
We should be looking within ourselves and not focussed outwardly on how much more comfortable or materially rewarding we can make our lives . We should avoid the temptation of success when it is offered to us in the form of a better job and higher salary which will demand we work longer, tiring hours thus taking more time away from our family and marriage partner and from our spiritual life. Our society does not respect the life of the spirit, the poverty of spirit that the Christian is called to by the Lord. Therefore to live as George Fox put it-as a distinct people gathered by the Lord- may put us at odds with the society we live in. But this was also the case for early Friends.
To live simply is to live a life of spiritual poverty, desiring nothing but to serve Christ in whatever way we are called to, which for many of us may be unspectacular forms of service e.g. just living simply. Simple living is to be at ease with our life’s circumstances and to know that the Lord has made our life this way for a reason and that reason may /may not be revealed in time, until then we just go on in faith. Our technological society has elevated some areas of science to the status of a new religion and certain categories of scientist as a new priestly caste who have all the answers for mankinds problems and questions. We are told in this new faith that God and the Devil do not exist and that man is now God, man is in charge of his own destiny, man now worships the idolatrous creations of his own ego e.g. we resurrect through cloning, we create new life forms by genetic engineering, we terminate life by abortion. This is a very tempting snare to the ego and many have been seduced by its appeal , surely however such a view is evidence that Satan does exist since it is his intent to snare Christians and encourage them to turn from Gods path and embrace the ‘fleshly power’ i.e. worship the world and its ways. What has the human race become?
Faced with such a secular and complex society it is difficult for Christians to pursue the spiritual life and retain a simplicity of witness in the world- difficult but not impossible! Such a truly Christ centred life runs counter to the prevailing values and norms of the world today-imagine the transformation of society if living for Christ became popular? In conclusion, the world we live in today is complex and soulless ,we have a choice to either walk the narrow path of Christ , or the many forked and convoluted path of the world. Regardless of how odd it may make us seem in the eyes of the world, or what difficulties may confront us within our lives (scripture shows us that if we follow Christ and take up the Cross as a disciple it does not mean our lives will be easy, quite the contrary), it is obvious that the simple life and its consequences are the only true way for people to live and Friends should not falter in their pursuit of such a life which sets alight the beacon fires for those in darkness to help guide them toward the path of Christ. To live simply is to ‘be a city set on a hill’
Simple Bread recipe
1 pound flour either whole meal or combination of white /wholemeal/granary
2 tablespoons olive oil
sachet of yeast
water to mix-approx 9 fl ozs
mix dry ingredients together, add oil, add water slowly in stages, mix well, knead for 10 minutes well. Put in loaf tin and cover, place in warm place for 1 hour till risen. Preheat oven to 220 C, bake for 40-45 minutes, if using fan assisted oven put greaseproof paper of around tin and cover loaf or it will burn.