A Case of the Simples

Watching our nation’s politicians as they propose, dispose, impose, expose, compose and, of course, suppose regarding the economic crisis this country is facing, I find myself wondering how many actually know what they are talking about.

I hate to be skeptical, but common sense — forged by a half-century 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 present meltdown of America’s financial institutions has 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. And what is his own solution to the quandary we face? He never says.

A long time ago, Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton 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…

Just outside Asheboro, North Carolina, is a tiny community named “Complex.” As motorists approach, they encounter a roadside sign, “Complex,” underneath which is printed in small letters: “Unincorporated.”

Evidently, Complex is simple. And yet, looking at it from another angle, Complex is complicated because it’s made up of people.

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….

False religions specialize in making things simple. A Jim Jones or David Koresh presents himself as the answer to everyone’s needs and urges them to trust in him, checking their brains and will power and discernment at the door.

So why can’t we Christians simplify matters regarding God and faith and eternity? 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.

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:

It could be a statement that “anyone with an ear should be able to understand this.” Or, it might be a prayer: “O Lord, give the reader understanding because this is deep!”

Our Bible speaks of various kinds of mysteries. There is 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).

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 or ours).

What to do….

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 government’s leaders 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 newspaper — 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.¬† 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, huh? No? But it’s right on the money.

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