Saturday, March 29, 2014

The world needs a simple man ...

As I write this, it's a wet, rainy day in northern California. A much needed watering in a drought-stricken place. Just the kind of morning to slow down, enjoy the pitter-patter sounds of the falling rain, and warm oneself with a cup of coffee.

A pleasant setting for a simple morning.

The rain often causes people to cancel all sorts of things they intended to do on what has become an inclement Saturday. Funny how many of those things suddenly become not-so-essential, and a rainy Saturday turns into time that a family can enjoy simple things together.

I remember when the greatest challenge of my Saturday mornings was to have a bowl of cereal and a glass of chocolate milk prepared and in front of the television by 6 a.m., ready for a morning of cartoons. It's the one time my parents let me indulge in TV viewing. Following the cartoons would be an old John Wayne "B" western, then it was time to square away my room and get outside for the afternoon.

Such simple things brought a great deal of satisfaction in that moment. Yet, it's often those simple moments we remember as we ponder life's blessings.

That often goes against the flow of what we're taught as adults. There seems to be no limit to the leaders who tell us we should be constantly striving to achieve great things and greatness itself. And if we listen to them, we find ourselves missing the simple, common moments in each day because we become focused on living for only those few big events that might happen in any given year.

We miss much of life when we live that way.

We also fail to achieve so much more when we think we have to make everything a massive attempt at something great. We mistakenly think that weeks of toil to produce a big Sunday show, complete with fog machines and complex productions, is greater than Joe standing out in his driveway praying with a neighbor or Susan sharing the Gospel with a co-worker while on her lunch break. The simple things done throughout the week in the lives of common Christians living out their faith have more impact on the kingdom of God than a man attempting to be great on a Sunday morning.

A good example of this is found in "Streams of Living Water," as author Richard Foster tells of Billy Graham preaching at Cambridge back in 1955. For three consecutive nights, Graham tried to make his preaching academic and enlightened, but with no effect. He finally realized that presenting the intellectual side of faith was not his gift, so he returned to preaching the simple message of Jesus rescuing us from our problem with sin. Foster wrote, "The results were astonishing: hundreds of sophisticated students responded to this clear presentation of the gospel. It was a lesson in clarity and simplicity that he never forgot."

God confounds those who would be great among us. He accomplishes more great things through ordinary people living simple lives of faithful obedience than men trying to become great. And He makes great the response to a man who stands and shares the Gospel in simple, plain, clear language than to those who lose the Gospel message in the grandeur of a production or complexity of a philosophical debate. To be great, we have to become simple, as simple as a child ...

"Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven'," Matthew 18:2-4.

The world doesn't need more men trying to become great. The world needs more simple men.

Are you one of them?

Scotty

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