Embracing The Simplicity of the Gospel
Written by Robin Lett
“Our heart is restless until it rests in You (Lord).” Augustine
I often think about the simple, rustic lifestyle I lived for years in a log cabin with no running water or electricity in the mountains of Colorado. Sweet are the memories of roaring fires, reading by candlelight, deep, meaningful conversations with friends who skied in to visit, and the smell of freshly baked bread. While I am quick to romanticize this time of my life, I’m then reminded of the hard work of splitting wood, the bitter cold when the fire went out, the long trek down the hill to the outhouse and the need for creative cooking due to scarcity of food; however, these difficulties do not overshadow the beauty and simplicity of that time. The juxtaposition of my simple versus arduous lifestyle came to mind as I considered the simplicity of the gospel and the effort and faith it takes to live in the freedom that is offered in Christ.
Simplicity means something that is clear and easy to understand or do. The simplicity of the gospel rests on the primary assumption that God exists, He is holy and loving, and that God desires and pursues intimate relationships with us. When immersed in God’s love and intimacy, the heart rests, and the motivation to share His love is overwhelming. To believe in Jesus and to love others as ourselves sums up the pure and simple gospel message. This sounds easy enough; however, it is difficult not to get lost in the complexity of religion/law, our brokenness, and relationships.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3).
Embracing the simplicity of the gospel gives way to an authentic life. It requires a belief in Christ and the reality that in our weakness, we are strong. But we are quick to complicate simple truths. Intrapersonal and interpersonal factors within our story provide an understanding as to why the struggle to be authentic is real and deep-rooted. Internalized fear and shame also interfere with the simplicity of the gospel. We question if God’s grace is enough and ask how God’s power can be made perfect in the very parts of us and our stories that we want to hide. We look for ways to feel good about ourselves or impress others and while some methods are admired by others (e.g. achievement, status) others are not (e.g. drug, alcohol abuse). Yet outside of Christ, all become complex and hollow substitutes for an authentic life that embraces the simplicity of God’s grace.
THIS IS ME
(From The Greatest Showman by Paul & Pasek)
I’m not a stranger to the dark,
Hide away, they say
‘cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars,
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
I am who I was meant to be
I am Glorious
It is possible to rest in God’s love while embracing our brokenness. (This is the simplicity of the gospel!)
Jesus was authentic and embraced/expressed His God-given emotions. I’ve learned through His example that emotions can be honored and are messengers that let me know what I need. I have noticed when I don’t feel peace in my heart, I am quick to focus on my shortcomings or my perception of others’ negative views of me. I am quick to “beat myself up” or withdraw. But I now know I can be empowered and come back to peace when I cry out to the Lord and enter into worship. I am taken back to the truth that I am brave, worthy and can be authentic even though imperfect and afraid. Courage is available from our loving God who longs to be gracious and show compassion (Isaiah 30:18) and has promised to bring us out of our distress, still the storm to a whisper, and guide us to our desired haven, which is resting in God’s love (Psalm 107:28-30). This process, which is ongoing, allows me to have peace in my heart and bring healthy and effective responses to relationship.
It was worth the discomfort and work necessary to survive my simple life in the mountains because of the peace I experienced in the stillness when the work was done. Living a simple, authentic life is not the absence of work or discomfort, as it can be risky, uncomfortable and requires effort to be vulnerable in relationships; but, worship brings back into God’s rest when we get stuck in our brokenness. Fear of being our authentic selves is conquered when standing in God’s love and our heart is changed within us; our compassion is aroused (Hosea 11:8), and we are free to love. For we were raised for this very purpose, that God might display His power in us through our weakness.
About the Author:
Robin Lett is originally from northern Minnesota but lived in many diverse places before and after moving to Muncie from the Bronx in New York City when a senior in high school. After graduation she moved to Colorado, spent time as a camp cook at a fishing lodge in Alaska and lived in southern California and Texas. Although she never thought she would return to Muncie she returned after discovering that peace could be found when resting in God’s love, regardless of circumstance or location. Robin enjoys being in nature and loves spending time with her husband, who keeps life exciting, her four children and 11 grandchildren, all who are amazing. She works at Veterans Affairs and her private practice as a psychologist, and considers it is an honor to walk a long side of veterans and others seeking healing and growth.