KEEPING IT SIMPLE
Did your Mom ever tell you, “You’d forget where you put your head if it wasn’t attached to you!?” And she was probably right because it’s awfully easy to forget things, even the most basic of things.
There’s a story told about a Hungarian mathematician named Paul Erdos. He was attending a conference and began talking to a colleague. He asked the other man where he was from and when the man said, “Vancouver,” Erdos replied, “Well, then you must know my good friend Elliot Mendelson. He’s from Vancouver, too.” The other guy gave him a funny look before replying, “I am your good friend Elliot Mendelson.”
If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you know that the Christian life is all about Jesus. But I’ve got a feeling that we forget that sometimes and make it about other things. Maybe we make it about religion and it becomes very complicated. Or maybe we turn it around and it becomes about us. And too often we forget what we do know and get all bogged down in what we’re not so sure about.
The end result: it doesn’t go well and that joy and excitement we used to have gets lost in the shuffle and lost in the routine.
There are some verses in the New Testament book of Colossians that cut through all this and take us right back to the basics. Back then there were some believers who had gotten caught up in what they considered secret knowledge, a spiritual understanding that could be understood only by a few, the so-called elite among them. Things like believing that matter was evil and only “spiritual” things were good; angel worship where they considered angels as being on the same level of God; rituals and ceremonies and celebrations and other things that had come to define the Christian life for them.
All in all, it had become a mess. They were adding so much to it that they were in danger of missing what it was really all about.
Because if you miss Christ, you’ve missed it all.
So the Apostle Paul had his work cut out for him as he kept it straight and simple. Here’s how he defined the Christian life:
“We proclaim him,
admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy,
which so powerfully works in me.”
(Colossians 1:28-29, NIV)
It’s really no more complicated than that. The Christian life is all about Jesus. That’s not to say there’s not a lot involved and a lot to deal with, but bottom line it’s about Jesus. We don’t want to miss him. But it’s easy to do.
My wife and I went to Niagara Falls a few years ago, and I was awed by the power and majesty of the falls. But there was a lot else to see and do in the area, too — a waterpark, an adventure park, wax museums on every corner, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, an IMAX theater, the bird kingdom, wine country tours, an arboretum and gardens, fireworks, food, food, food, shopping, shopping, shopping, souvenirs and more. All interesting stuff (and expensive, too!).
But if you missed the falls, you missed it all.
If your Christian life has become more about other things than Jesus Christ, if you miss Jesus, you’ve missed it all.
Author of “Ouch! When Ministry Hurts”