10 May “Keeping It Simple” By Melissa Mitchell
That is what the Pharisees were doing during Jesus’ time. They made it tough to follow God, creating all sorts of extra rules that people had to observe.
I think as believers we can also fall into that trap, adding to the requirements of what it means to follow Christ. We do this to ourselves and others. We can think things like: “If he was really a Christian he wouldn’t….” or “Good Christians don’t….” We also can add social and political components to it. We judge others by the books they read, the music they listen to, and the people for whom they do and don’t vote.
For ourselves, we sometimes add the burdens of guilt and shame to the gospel. We can distance ourselves from God when we sin, instead of drawing closer to him. Author Jerry Bridges wrote that our need for the gospel doesn’t end once we become Christians. We need to “preach the gospel to ourselves” as believers as well.
The gospel is fairly simple.
For several years, I worked for a mission organization called Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru). We used a 4 point outline of the gospel.
1. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
2. People are sinful and this separates us from God.
3. Jesus Christ is God’s answer to our sin problem.
4. We must receive Jesus Christ as our savior.
So simple! So simple a child can understand. Yet we make it so hard.
Don’t get me wrong—as believers we are called to live a holy life, to put away our sin, and to be like Jesus. Yet, these are not requirements for salvation—we don’t need to do “x, y, & z” to be saved. We need to accept God’s gift of grace by faith. That’s all.
One other way God keeps it simple is found in Matthew 22:34-40.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I understand that loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and loving my neighbor as myself is not easy (it is only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit!), but it is fairly simple to understand.
My prayer for myself, and for you, is that we would remember the simplicity of the gospel and the great commandment, and preach it to ourselves and others.