Monday, 30 March 2015

Week #1 - Participate in Church

We most like to think of simplicity as the reduction of things. It is the call to reduce our possessions, our demands, our activities.  Given this, the suggestion that we should cultivate habitual church attendance as a means of 'simplifying' our lives may seem strange.  Isn't this just adding one more duty onto an already full schedule?  How can church attendance lead us into a life of simplicity?

If we are to take seriously the basic understanding that simplicity is 'the single hearted focus upon God and his Kingdom', then we must make sure that we are immersed in the Christian community.  When Jesus spoke his words about seeking first the kingdom of God, he did not have in mind mere navel-gazing by a group of individuals alone in a field.  Jesus called the disciples together to this single hearted seeking.  He was speaking about what it meant to live as a disciple of Jesus, a life that naturally involved community.  The discipline of simplicity, as a part of what it means to live the Christian life, is formed in the community of faith.  This is the reason why the book of Hebrews calls us to 'not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.' (Hebrews 10:25)  It is in the context of the authentic Christian community that we are encouraged in the living out of our faith.  We are upheld, supported, loved, challenged, and encouraged.  Furthermore, it is in community that we learn what it means to turn our hearts to Jesus, to be open to the pulses and rhythms of His Spirit, to feel His presence, and to hear His word.  We simply cannot fully learn these things in isolation.

The cultivation of simplicity, then, requires that we participate in the life of the Christian community.  We find a community of faith, a church, and enter into its life and ministry.  This doesn’t mean that we must take up positions of leadership or responsibility – in fact if Church attendance has never been a habitual part of your life, then I would urge otherwise.  Still,  making church attendance – involvement in the community of faith – a habit for our lives is about turning our lives away from worldly distractions.  We choose Sabbath. We choose worship.  We choose to focus ourselves on Christ and His Kingdom.
Church attendance is related to simplicity because developing the internal habit of being open to Jesus starts with developing the external habit of structuring our week around the participation in the worship of our faith community. This becomes an external sign of our willingness to ‘seek first the kingdom of God.’

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