In Touch – March 9, 2012
Posted on March 9, 2012 by under Touché,

“This Is Why the Afghans Hate Us,” or “First World Problems”

‘Tis a gift to be simple,
‘Tis a gift to be free,
‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we see ourselves in a way that’s right,
We will live in a valley of love and delight

 Richard Foster opens his chapter on simplicity, our discipline for this week, with this old Shaker hymn. The Shaker communities were known for making simple quality furniture that functioned well for many years.  It seems that our culture and our lives have left that far behind.

The stories I have that convict me of my lack of simplicity are legion (you will hear some this Sunday), but my brother-in-law Phil put it in perspective a couple of Christmases ago when we were all given little charms that go on the stem of a wine glass to keep track of whose was whose.  He lifted his little charm up and said: “What is this?”  When he was told, he looked at it and said, “This is why the Afghans hate us.”  We all laughed at his wit, but in his caustic assessment of our materialism, he had a point: in a world where so many have so little, we have so much that means so little.

My daughter pointed out a web site titled: “First world problems”: “ I hate when I can’t figure out which remote works which device and the Blue Ray  plays when I want to switch channels on the T.V.”  You could probably make a list of first world problems of your own.  We can’t find a way to fit all five cars we own in our driveway.  It is a real pain.  I am glad the Hilary has the sixth car on our policy out in San Diego.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says that “God made man simple: man’s complex problems are of his own devising” (Jerusalem Bible). So much of what gets us into trouble is trying to get more.  As the complexity of our life becomes more confusing the gospel invites us to the simplicity of seeking first the kingdom.  As we look at this discipline it will be a challenge to see how we are investing our treasure and our time.  I don’t look forward to the silly ways that I have made my life more complicated, but I hope this Sunday we all grow in the gift and the discipline of simplicity.

In Christ,