Saturday, March 14, 2015

When Simplifying Gets Complicated

Bill Hybels, in his book, Simplify, talks about living a simplified life, paring down the "overscheduled and overwhelmed web" of our current lives and simplifying things for ourselves. The stated goal is to unclutter our souls. I'm sure Bill has some great ideas on getting organized and living more simply, but I take issue with his use of Scripture as his proof text.

He said, "In my experience, a handful of key practices are vital to keeping my soul clutter-free. These practices help me overcome the barriers that keep me from living the life "to the full"  that Jesus promised in John 10:10."

Oh, my. On this, Bill Hybels is wrong.

John 10:10. In this verse, Jesus said,

" The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." 

Jesus is not talking about an over-scheduled, overwhelmed life that has too many appointments going on. He's talking about quantity of life. The context of John 10 is the Good Shepherd. Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd and repeats in the context that He is the Door of the sheep....that anyone who enters by Him will be saved. He said that thieves come only to steal, and to kill and to destroy...and that's when He says He has come that they might have life and have it more abundantly. Abundantly here means quantity. He came that we might have full quantity of life. What is full quantity of life? What is abundant life? Eternal life. That's what Jesus is talking about. Eternal life.

No over-scheduling, overwhelming busyness or anything else can take this away from you. There is nothing that can keep you from living life "to the full" because life to the full is not something you can control. It is the gift of God. It is eternal life. It is the fullest quantity of life.

Life gets more complicated for me when someone misuses Scripture to prove their point. This is tantamount to spiritual abuse because

a) it teaches the reader that they might not get what Jesus promised. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus promised abundant life with no strings attached. It is His gift.

b) it teaches that Jesus is inconsistent in His gift because simplifying life is really a first world issue and my brothers and sisters in Christ who barely make it through the day because they live in a refugee camp also have abundant life.

c) it minimizes Christ's accomplishment on the cross because it reduces Him to Someone Who is there to make our lives uncomplicated.

d) it minimizes the suffering and persecution going on around the world today. Look at our brothers and sisters losing their heads for their faith right now! If you think they can simplify their lives on earth, you are wrong, yet they have abundant life because even once they lose their heads, they are still alive.

In Christ, you have abundant life. Period. No exceptions. But, believe me, if you truly live for Him, your life will not be uncomplicated. Living for Him means you will have conflict in life, will be pushed to the edge of your faith, will be tried and tested and made to stand against others if you're going to follow Him. It means you're going to have enemies and a drive to tell others about Him so they can avoid hell, and, believe me, that's complicated. Living for Him means you put others first, even if that means you have to fill your calendar.

Look at the lives of Jesus' disciples in the New Testament. Not one of them got away with an uncluttered, uncomplicated life once they began to follow Christ. Most of them were martyred. Many others were threatened. Many others were imprisoned. Others risked their lives again and again for the sake of the Gospel. Yet they had abundant life....because they are still alive. Their lives are still abundant, more than 2,000 years later. That is life to the full. That is life abundant.

So, please don't fall for this lie that an uncluttered life is an abundant life. Bill Hybels has no business redefining a portion of Scripture to sell another book. If he had left my God out of it, left my precious Scriptures out of it, it might be a good book on organization and simplification. But, instead, he misused Scripture, redefined God's own Words and used them in an absolute wrong way. This makes his teachings null and void. This is spiritual abuse.

In Christ, our souls are not going to be clutter-free, either. Clutter-free living is not the route to peace. Jesus is the only Route to peace. He will give peace because He is peace. You cannot earn His peace or bring it on yourself by following some man-made steps until you feel it. It is there. It is Him. He earned it on that cross. You cannot earn it or get it any other way.  John 14:27; 16:33 and Ephesians 2:14 are just a few verses that tell of His peace. There are so very many more.

Just reading Amazon's 20% free portion of this book complicated my life because I became driven to set it straight and point out this gross error.

Don't allow yourself to be sucked into the idea that you can live a more abundant life through simplification. Instead, throw yourself headlong onto the Savior and watch His peace rule in your heart through His eternal promises. You will stand amazed.

Stop reading "Bible study books" and start reading, really reading, your Bible.

No comments:

Post a Comment