Wednesday, June 01, 2016

It's Not Complicated - The Spirituality of Jesus

The Facebook mantra, often wielded to refer to broken relationships, is "It's complicated." It's hard, but not complicated.

Not really, See here, for example. 

BTW, physics isn't complicated, either. Not at its core. This is the great scientific quest for simplicity. See, e.g., physicist Neil Turok - "The Astonishing Simplicity of Everything." It's hard, but not complicated.

So it is also is when it comes to the spiritual life. I recently met with a good friend to talk about our spiritual lives and pray for each other. At one point I said that the spiritual life is simple but not simplistic. As Thomas Merton wrote: "It is not complicated to lead the spiritual life, but it is difficult." (The Sign of Jonas)

  • Abide in Christ
  • Stay connected to Jesus
  • Dwell in God's presence
  • Live "in Christ"
  • Love God with all that you are, and love your neighbor as your self
Jesus said all the laws and teachings of the prophets hang on the command to love. Jesus is like a physicist who reduces everything to E = mc 2.  Legalistic, rule-oriented "Christianity" complicates matters. As "Christ is formed in you" (Galatians 4:19), rules aren't needed. Jesus didn't need rules. He didn't wear a 'WWID' bracelet to which he constantly looked and asked, "What Would I Do?" When the law is written on your heart and the Guide resides within you no longer need a map.

When you love, you obey. That's uncomplicated, right? Those who love the guitar practice. Those who love sports watch them and play them. Those who love food obey the command to eat.

We know that we love God if we obey his commands. 1 John 5:3-4 says: "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world." His commands are not burdensome (complicated) precisely because God is in us and we are in God. "We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit... God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us..." (1 John 4:13, 16-17)

The simple, uncomplicated spirituality of Jesus is this: if you are a branch, connected to the vine, then you will produce the fruit of the vine. Inexorably. Logically.

1. If John loves Jesus, John will obey Jesus' commands.
2. John loves Jesus.
3. Therefore, John keeps Jesus' commands.

Or, conversely, by modus tollens:

1. If John loves Jesus, John will obey Jesus' commands.
2. John does not obey Jesus' commands.
3. Therefore, John does not love Jesus.

  • Satan works to keep you disconnected and, therefore, unfruitful
  • This is when the spiritual life gets "complicated"
  • The spiritual life becomes a simplistic tallying-up and weighing of good deeds vs. bad deeds, like adding up columns of numbers
  • This is the loss of the God-relationship and the taking-on of the heavy weight of legalistic rules-righteousness
  • God loves you
  • God's love has been demonstrated in Jesus
  • Love God back, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength
  • Dispense this God-love to your neighbor
My book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God is available 
HERE and as a Kindle book HERE
You can contact me at: