A Path to Simplicity – Day #10

A Path to Simplicity - Day #10#10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.

For this, our final day, I am going to quote Foster verbatim. Enjoy his reflection.

“It is so easy to lose focus in the pursuit of legitimate, even good things. Job, position, status, family, friends, security – these and many more can all too quickly become the center of attention. George Fox warns, ‘[…] there is the danger and the temptation to you, of drawing your minds into your business, and clogging them with it; so that ye can hardly do anything to the service of God […] and your minds will go into the things, and not over the things. […] And then, if the Lord God cross you, and stop you by sea and land, and take your goods and customs from you, that your minds should not be cumbered, then that mind that is cumbered, will fret, being out of the power of God.’

May God give you – and me – the courage, the wisdom, the strength always to hold the kingdom of God as the number one priority of our lives. To do so is to live in simplicity.

I would like to thank you for sticking it out with me for ten whole days. I hope and pray that these reflections have been beneficial to you and I trust that you have learned something along the way!

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A Path to Simplicity – Day #9

A Path to Simplicity - Day #9

#9. Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.

It was the great abolitionist William Wilberforce who once said [concerning the Transatlantic Slave Trade]: “Having heard all this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.”

The idea here is that if you know someone is being oppressed and you are benefiting as a result, you are obligated to act. The yoke of oppression that a human being may suffer can in no way be justified by another’s desire for wealth.

This is a tricky subject for us in the western world as the manufacturing of many of our goods is subcontracted and outsourced to developing nations where working conditions are often left unchecked.

While you may feel helpless to combat such global issues there is something that you can do. First, educate yourself on the issues, second, use that new found education to make a practical change in your life. Here is an example… In my Grade 12 year of school I took a World Issues course that focused on Fair Trade products. I can remember discussing the topic with my parents and from that time onward they have been purchasing coffee that is 100% Fair Trade certified. This means, in summation, that the manufacturing process behind the coffee is regulated by an international body which insures that fair wages are being paid to everyone who involved in the process.

I’m not asking you to change your whole lifestyle, the clothes you wear, the furniture you buy, the coffee you drink. But what I am asking you to do is to educate yourself on the fact that other human beings are being exploited for your benefit, and to then choose to make a practical change in your life.

“Here I was led into a close and laborious inquiry whether I […] kept clear from all things which tended to stir up or were connected with wars; […] my heart was deeply concerned that in the future I might in all things keep steadily to the pure truth, and live and walk in the plainness and simplicity of a sincere follower of Christ. […] And here luxury and covetousness, with the numerous oppression and other evils attending them, appeared very afflicting to me.”  – John Woolman

Start your education here… Follow the links, explore, learn.

Fair Trade Logo

 
*Editor Note: My Father is not convinced that I was the one who changed his coffee drinking habits. I respectfully disagree. 
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A Path to Simplicity – Day #8

SPEECH

#8. Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech.

“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” – Matthew 5:37.

Speaking plainly and honestly is something lost in our culture. Be honest with yourself, have you lied today? What about a half-truth? It is easy to spin our words so that they ‘benefit’ us. However, this ‘benefit’ is nothing more than earthly accolades and successes, things which hold no eternal significance.

I love the perspective of St. Augustine when it comes to telling the truth and to making promises. Augustine believed that to say “I promise” would be dishonourable based on the fact that a promise implies that your freestanding word is not binding.

Foster summarizes this all perfectly by saying: “If you consent to do a task, do it. Avoid flattery and half-truths. Make honesty and integrity the distinguishing characteristics of your speech.”

“If thou are absolutely obedient to God, then there is no ambiguity in thee and […] thou are mere simplicity before God. […] One thing there is which all Satan’s cunning and all the snare of temptation cannot take by surprise, and this is simplicity.” – Soren Kierkegaard

 

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A Path to Simplicity – Day #7

Buy Now Pay Later CS Lewis

#7. Look with a healthy skepticism at “by now, pay later schemes.”

Debt is a rampant issue in our society. Both the New and Old Testament condemn usury. Usury in the biblical context does not speak of large amounts of interest but rather it refers to any interest at all.

I want to include an insert from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. This passage draws no concrete conclusions and it does not tell you how to live your life, rather it sheds some light onto the issue and encourages you to draw your own conclusions…

Now another point. There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest; and lending money at interest – what we call investment – is the basis of our whole system. Now it may not absolutely follow that we are wrong. Some people say that when Moses and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in forbidding interest (or ‘usury’ as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only thinking of the private money lender, and that, therefore, we need not bother about what they said. That is a question I cannot decide on. I am not an economist and I simply do not know whether the investment system is responsible for the state we are in or not. This is where we want the Christian economist. But I should not have been honest if I had not told you that three great civilizations had agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing which we have based our whole life.

Concerning Luke 6:35 which states: “lend, expecting nothing in return” Foster says:

“These words of scripture should not be elevated into some kind of universal law obligatory upon all cultures at all times. But neither should they be thought of as totally irrelevant to modern society. […] Prudence, as well as simplicity, demands that we use extreme caution before incurring debt.”

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A Path to Simplicity – Day #6

Creation

#6. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.

The beauty of creation has often left me dumbfounded. It is awe inspiring, breathtaking and more often than not, indescribable. Being from the west coast I have always had a deep appreciation for the mountains, the beauty that comes with being above the clouds is incredible. I have often heard that driving on the prairies is boring, and while I see the “flatness” argument as somewhat valid, consider this: have you ever looked up into the sky while out on the open prairie? If not, then do. The amount of sky that you can see, north, east, south and west, is amazing. It is a vast and never ending sea of blue, take a moment to appreciate it.

“Get close to the earth. Walk whenever you can. Listen to the birds. Enjoy the texture of grass and leaves. Smell the flowers. Marvel in the rich colours everywhere. Simplicity means to discover once again that ‘the earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof’ (Ps. 24:1)” – Foster

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A Path to Simplicity – Day #5

Share Things

#5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them. 

Our culture is obsessed with ownership. We are taught to believe that: Ownership = Control = Maximized Pleasure, but this is not the case. There are many marvellous things in this world that we can enjoy without paying a single cent.

When was the last time you went to the park instead of the movies? How about a public library? Through this simple act of simplicity you will unravel a whole new world, so seek out things that you can enjoy without owning!

Share things.” – Foster

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A Path to Simplicity – Day #4

iPhone Simplicity

#4. Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.

“Time saving devices almost never save time.” – Foster

Think for yourself! Being the first one to have the next-best-thing WILL NOT make you happy,  no matter how much the ads promise you it will. I believe that common sense and rationality must work hand in hand with simplicity. Be smart in your decisions. If your not sure what being smart entails, ask someone, someone smart.

We all need to rethink how we prioritize material possessions in relation to the rest of our lives. There are bigger things in life than our iPhones and our gadgetry…

I find the following graphic troubling but true. It serves as a wake up call to us all.Einstein Cell Phones Technology

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