by Melissa McDonald
The world has spread a feast for us. The dishes laid out are innumerable. And each year we perfect a dozen or so new recipes to add to this gospel-alternative menu.
Of course no one thinks everything on the table looks good. I don’t like black olives and finding my identity in a prestigious career isn’t very appealing. It never has been for me. I doubt I’ll wake up tomorrow and crave a dish full of black olives. But there are other items on the buffet that do look good.
Did you notice that smoothie in the back left corner? Personally, the idea of living simply really catches my eye.
“Simple” is a buzzword that sings so sweetly to this generation. And everywhere you turn it’s defined a little differently. But the message is usually about cutting out excess in your closet, in your diet, in your schedule. There are various thoughts on what this means practically. I remember thumbing through one magazine that suggested simplifying your life by only keeping clear vases on one page and showed a beautiful display of yellow vases on the next. But I drank it in anyway. I drank it because I wanted it to be true.
I want to weed out my wardrobe and find that it has reduced the noisiness in my soul. I want peace to come from a well ordered routine and wholeness to come from my diet. In a culture still starving after we have devoured excessiveness, perhaps we would be more satisfied if we measured out a quarter cup of almonds for our 3:00 snack.
The thing about any false gospel on the table is that it’s not entirely false. There are certainly tips that are compatible with a life of the wisdom that comes from known God. Christians must live intentionally for the Kingdom, we are to make the most of our time. We must vigilantly weed our heart soil to make sure that our stuff doesn’t choke out our faith. It is good for us be sensible about nutrition as we feed our families.
The problem is when the idea of “simple living” becomes for us a morality, a source of hope, the place we look to for rest and wholeness. And when we forget that ours is not a story of minimalism but of overflowing abundance.
Our Maker did not create only the robin and the trout but streams and skies full of wonder, splendor, and variety. The sun never paints the same mural twice. Every moment, each step to the left, and we see new hues of majesty on the horizon. He does not only design the snowflakes that will be admired, but He uniquely crafts the ones that will melt into the muddy spring slurry unnoticed. He gave us every fruit bearing tree to eat from, save one. There is no stern look on his face as we enjoy both the apple and the pear. He has spared nothing from us, not even his Son. We have been given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and “the richness of his grace, which he lavished upon us.”
We do not fundamentally belong to a story of paring back and living simply, but a story of unfathomable abundance–of generosity without bounds. God does not apparently think we learn generosity through stinginess; He does not withhold things that might appear excessive in hopes that we learn to live with less. In the Gospel we are taught generosity through such fulness that it spills over.
We do not limit the clothes in our closets in search of rest, we have already found that. No, we give generously because we do not have a single need that will not finally be supplied. Our peace is of the kind that lasts when noodles end up in our carpet and the baby has us all off schedule by seven o’clock in the morning. And our wholeness remains when we serve box mac and cheese for dinner.
The temptation is to fill up on all these other dishes, to lose our appetite for the good food God generously serves us in the Gospel.
His banquet is spread. It is not sparse. “Come! Let all who are hungry come! Eat! Be satisfied!” Taste and see that the Lord doesn’t go down like dried beans. God’s Word is sweeter than honey. Feast on His abundant grace. Why spend money on food that does not satisfy? Jesus is our Bread.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Melissa McDonald and her husband Eric serve international students at The University of Iowa. Melissa is passionate about discipling women, starting with their two daughters and extending to the women she knows from around the world. Melissa blogs at Radiant Ministries Today and has written the Bible study guide: To Live Valiantly: A study on the Proverbs 31 Woman.