Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
This week, as I approach the start of the Quaker Basics course, I've been reading about simplicity. To a new Friend, this is a challenging concept. I was concerned that it made a virtue out of not thinking and this troubled me. Many years ago, as a new Christian, I remember being told that Christians should accept all they are told without question. Even as a teenager, I thought that was ridiculous. How could I separate the two ideas? Simplicity, as it was presented, seemed at first to mean not using our brain, just a short step from not questioning.
At first, I felt more comfortable with the idea of 'thinking loosely', rather than being simplistic. I took comfort in Einstein's words that 'it is important to be as simple as possible, but no simpler'. From there, it was a short step to the KISS principle we teach in schools (Keep it simple and straightforward). This was familiar territory in simplicity, something easy to stomach.
Finally, I read from Matthew, chapter 3, verse 12, 'His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and the wheat will be gathered into his granary but the chaff will be burnt.' At the same time the words 'Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away' popped into my head.
I pulled out my sketch book, reserved for the very poor sketches that help to focus creative thought. The picture of an old-fashioned egg timer came to mind. As creation falls through the sands of time into God's hands, it is divided. The worthless will pass away, but the worthwhile will survive, gathered into the granary. Chaff is the outer husk of the corn, it hides the treasure within, the 'that of God in everyone'.
This is what is worth saving. The simplicity is not ours, but God's. We clutter creation with our own rubbish, but what is important can be reduced to the very basic. As we come more into line with God, our simplicity grows. Keep it simple and straightforward.