A case of the simples: Beware

We do like things simple, to be sure.  K.I.S.S. has long been the rule for a thousand disciplines.  But some things are simply not simple and to imply otherwise is to mislead.  Let’s talk about that.

Watching our nation’s politicians as they propose, dispose, impose, expose, compose and, of course, suppose regarding the economic crises our country seems to be forever facing, we wonder how many actually know what they are talking about.

Listening to pastors and denominational leaders arguing over something called “critical race theory” and other divisive issues raises the same question:  How many know what they are talking about?

I hate to be skeptical about Congress, but common sense — forged by six decades of dealing with churches, finance people, and my own situations — informs me that most people do not relate to budgets, debts, and deals in the millions of dollars, much less billions and even trillions. The economy of such a large nation is composed of complexities and ramifications and intricacies that baffle even the greatest minds.

That, however, does not prevent the lowliest politician from sounding forth on the matter, usually to tell the world all that is wrong with whatever the nation’s leaders are proposing at the moment. That’s how he got elected and what keeps him in office.

A long time ago, Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858) said, “The worst disease afflicting my constituents is a thing called ‘the simples.’ The folks back home want me to come up with simple solutions to their complex problems, answers that resolve all their difficulties without it costing them anything.”

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.

Mystery: An enigma inside a conundrum…

Near Asheboro, North Carolina, lies a tiny community named “Complex.” As motorists approach, the roadside sign reads “Complex.”  Underneath is printed in small letters: “Unincorporated.”

Clearly, Complex is simple. And yet, looking at it from another angle, Complex is complicated because it’s made up of people, the most complicated and intricate of all God’s creations.

C. S. Lewis said, “It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple. But ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of — all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain — and of course you find that what we call ‘seeing a table’ lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of.”

Beware of oversimplifications about anything….

False religions specialize in making things overly simple. A Jim Jones or David Koresh presents himself as the answer to everyone’s needs and urges the gullible to trust in him, checking their brains and will power and their very lives at the door.  Once when I suggested to a Jehovah’s Witness that his interpretation of a particular word from Scripture was suspect because “sometimes that word means this, and sometimes it means that.”  He scoffed.  “The very idea,” he snarled, implying that the confusion on my part was because I refused to accept the simple truth.  I did notice a few years later when the JW organization produced their own translation of Scriptures, they cleared up all the confusion by twisting verses to make them say what they wanted.  They end up feeding falsehoods to their people who could not abide the not-so-simple Truth.

Here is a question for you: Why can’t Christians simplify matters regarding God and faith and eternity? Answer:  Simply — uh oh, there’s that word — because we are dealing with reality, the truth about the God of the universe, and not a system of our own making.  Ask any scientist or astronaut.  The laws governing this universe are anything but simple.

In the last book of the New Testament, we find again and again, “He who has an ear, let him hear” (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22; and 13:9). Now, that hits me as having two possible meanings:  a) This is a statement that “anyone with an ear should be able to understand this.” b) Or, it’s a prayer: “O Lord, give the reader understanding because this is deep!”  (I vote for the latter.)

Our Bible speaks of mysteries, including the mystery of Christ and His church which is a picture of a husband and wife’s unity (Ephesians 5:32), the mystery of the faith which deacons are to hold with a clear conscience (I Timothy 3:9), and the mystery of godliness which is great (I Timothy 3:16).  Second Thessalonians 2:7 gives us “the mystery of iniquity.”

Each of us has our own list of mysteries which we’d love for the Lord to unravel, and which we fully expect Him to do in time (His, not ours).

What to do in the meantime….

So, what are we to do in this complex world with its complicated problems while attempting to live out our profound faith?

First, we should pray for our leaders (government, denominational, etc) who are charged with untying the Gordian knot and restoring sanity and clarity and integrity to the world we live and work in.

Second, we must work at understanding all we can. That demands that we keep our wits about us, become men and women of prayer and the Word — and if you will, the daily news — and then give a lot of thought to matters facing God’s people today.

Third, we must accept that there will be areas which we will not understand or master in this life. Those we leave with the Lord. As with the obstacles God placed before Israel in the wilderness, perhaps the Lord has left them here to humble us and keep us dependent on Him.

Lastly, we must submit to our Creator and Father.  We will find great solace and wisdom and direction in worship. Nothing says it better than the last words of Romans 11 —

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

Nothing simple about our Lord, is there? The Creator of this universe is clearly the embodiment of all wisdom and profundity.

However, our response to such a Lord is uncluttered —

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

I seem to hear an echo in that of something our Lord Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

Simple? It’s anything but simple.  But it’s right on the money.

1 thought on “A case of the simples: Beware

  1. This is an excellent article/blog. Thank you.
    Actually I was wanting to respond to one of your pieces on Crosswalk-“10 things Christians keep forgetting what Jesus said “. I think #3 about actions of loving people are definitely needed, but too many people think we will know we are Christians by our love alone when we need to know, understand and share the actual word of salvation and the Bible. Too many people are biblically illiterate because they have not studied scripture through a good deep Bible study. That is my heart’s desire is to help people develop a love relationship with Jesus because they know what He has done and what He teaches through the life giving words of God’s Word.

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