January 7 – Simplicity
Read: Isaiah 52:13-53:2
You would be hard pressed to find someone in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho today who would not on some level support the mantra, “Simplify, simplify.” People want to live simply today, whether out of a desire to unplug, be green, or generally have a less hectic life. One might think that the Friends testimony to simplicity is all the rage.
But being "all the rage" does not accurately describe Christian living. It was often when big crowds began following him that Jesus withdrew from the public eye to remember what he was all about. Which is why it may be helpful for Friends to remember that the testimony to simplicity was originally a call to plainness.
This very quickly changes the conversation, for the word plain is not nearly as cute as the word simple. Simplicity is beautiful and compelling. Plain is just . . . plain.
Yet for our spiritual fathers and mothers, plainness was an important discipline. It testified to a truth so powerful that the world demeaned it with insult, and has now co-opted it with trendiness. But there is a depth to plainness the world cannot realize, because plainness is not primarily an absence of adornment (or technology, trash, and time commitments), but the presence of peace. It is the radical presence of the Living Christ.
The world scoffs at the Suffering Servant, because it will not accept his presence, and refuses to see his beauty. It is beauty that does not seek recognition because it knows itself as already recognized. It is a beauty that does not seek to be desirable because it knows itself as already desired. It is a beauty of a young plant coming out of dry ground--tough, tender, and content with this plain truth: that it holds the Life which gives life to all things.
Could my testimony to simplicity also be seen as a testimony to plainness? If so, how? If not, why?
Is the ground of my Christian witness contentment in and surrender to Christ’s Presence?
Does simplicity free me to live without the need to be recognized,
and help me to serve others genuinely?