< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: A Place Called Simplicity

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Place Called Simplicity

This lesson is based on a book I've been reading, A Place Called Simplicity
by Claire Cloninger

John Charles Cooper wrote, “As I contemplate the joy that can come when our nervous energies are freed up to engage in meaningful communion with God and His creation, I feel moved to strip down to basics in my life.”

The author of A Place Called Simplicity talks about all the crazy things going on in our world today and how it’s not supposed to be like this. She says we were created for Eden and we are all homesick for that place.

In God’s original plan, man was in a beautiful garden communing daily with a loving God; trusting His provision, marveling at His creation and enjoying His friendship forever.

But in a moment of sin, two people who had everything, suddenly needed more. And we have wanted more than we have ever since!

We are homesick for the simplicity of the original plan. In the beginning Adam and Eve understood the rules. That was pretty easy actually because there was only one rule: not to eat the forbidden fruit. They also knew God was God and they were not. But they listened to the wrong voice. They lost their focus. They took their eyes off of God. And what was simple and beautiful no longer was. Gone was their feeling of connectedness, their clear sense of identity, their understandable boundaries and their primary trust relationship.

Each of these things that they lost affects our lives today. Each gives a clue why our world is so chaotic and confused.

Let’s look at each –

The loss of connectedness:

Ever since Eden’s doors were shut, people have known what it is to feel “cut off”. Feelings of alienation and estrangement are common causes for stress. We’ve all felt alone! And it’s not a good feeling.

The loss of identity:

Adam and Eve had only seen themselves through God’s eyes before the fall. And God said all of His creation was good. Suddenly they were ashamed of their bodies. They were scrambling for cover. Today we see ourselves through our parent’s eyes, our teacher’s eyes, our peer’s eyes… We compare ourselves to airbrushed models and fake characters in movies. And we develop a faulty sense of self.

We also try to acquire a feeling of significance in our work, our achievements, our bank accounts or our social standings. We feel we need to prove our worth!

Adam and Eve in the garden didn’t need any of those things to prove their value. They just had to “be”. Simply be! But we run in circles believing all the ads that tell us if we buy this cream, eat this food, live in this neighborhood, own this item – we’ll be worthy.

The loss of boundaries:

Adam and Eve had clearly defined boundaries. There were no grey areas in their life. No confusion, no guilt, no shame. Today, the author says, our moral boundaries, our black and white ethics are so badly smudged that the lines are all but lost. Nobody is sure of the rules anymore.

So lots of times we make up our own rules! She mentioned those quizzes or polls we see in magazines. And they give us a graph of what “most people are doing”, suggesting that if we fall into those boundaries we must be ok.

This shows that we hunger for boundaries, but we are measuring them against other sinful people’s actions, not against the Holy God’s.

She said if you’ve ever watched young children play, one of the first things they do is establish the rules of the game. And they won’t start unless everyone understands. Well – we’re creating our own rules.

The loss of a simple trust relationship:

This is probably the worst consequence of the fall. God’s children got separated from Him. Humans have turned their backs on the central relationship of trust in their lives. Our lives are fragmented now. There is no one central focus. No unifying center. She wrote, “We are like planets gone wild trying to revolve around too may suns.” And “ We were created to be centered in the one true God and without Him we lack our essential center of gravity.”

But, we are resourceful people and what we lack, we invent! So people invent their own gods: money, success, even our own selves (which is very New Age). Actually I don’t know why we call that New Age because it’s the very temptation that destroyed Eden. Adam and Eve wanted to be gods too.

God created us. We did not create Him. He is what He is, no matter what we think about Him or even if we believe in Him or not.

The author also suggests that we aren’t the only ones who are homesick for Eden, but like parents of the child who is away at camp longing to be home, God is homesick for us too. He misses His children and the relationship we were meant to have with Him. And that’s why He built a bridge back for us. A bridge back from our chaos to His simplicity. Jesus is the bridge. He’s our Salvation, our central focus, our gravity.

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