I'm not sure where those pictures came from in my mind, but that's what I thought of. What was missing was the critical church members who criticize every decision made, the preachers who get together to tear another down, the singer who is pouting because they haven't sung in a while, the brothers fighting over differences in their lives, children who are in rebellion and mischievous, song police, sermon auditors, mean deacons, tight wad trustees, and bitter old people. Ok, so that is probably what makes the real picture of simplicity.
In some way, every faithful church member has an idea of what I am talking about. There is so much politics, policing, plundering, pounding, pretending, and pride in our churches, that we begin to question God, His church, and His Word. We begin to look at "churches" with no strong doctrine, no standards, no soul winning...and we say, "well, at least they love God and each other."
My wife pointed out to me the other day how much writing Baptist are putting out with Grace-based philosophy. Now don't get me wrong, we should do everything according to the grace of God; but what I speak of is the philosophy that God's grace covers it all, so don't judge anything, let God deal with it all, just love people and it will be fine.
There is so much truth in that statement, I hate contradicting it; but while God's grace is there and the foundation for all we do; we can only experience the grace of God after we submit to the truth of God. Take our salvation, before we could experience the grace for ourselves we must first submit to the truth that we are sinners deserving of Hell. Upon that recognition, we then can experience the grace of God that is salvation.
Grace is always served on the platter of truth!"For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:"-Col. 1:5-6
Back to our simplicity in church life...So how does this all apply to our church lives? What about the "simple" days? The first thing we must ask (as always) is what does the Bible say about simplicity?
The word "simplicity" in our New Testaments is the Greek word "haplotes" and means 1) singleness, simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty; the virtue of one who is free from pretence and hypocrisy
2) not self seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity.
The Word is found in the following Scriptures:
Rom. 12:8: Or he that exhorteth , on exhortation: he that giveth , [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth , with diligence; he that sheweth mercy , with cheerfulness.
2 Cor. 1:12: For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
2 Cor. 8:2: How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
2 Cor. 9:11: Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
2 Cor. 9:13: Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men];
2 Cor. 11:3: But I fear , lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Eph. 6:5: Servants, be obedient to them that are [your] masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Col. 3:22: Servants, obey in all things [your] masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
One takes from these Scriptures, that true Biblical simplicity is a willingness to just give yourself to the Lord without any regard to what anyone thinks.
Rom. 12:8-if your gift is giving, just give what the Lord tells you and who cares what others think?
2 Cor. 1:12-live your life for the Lord wholly given to Him and who cares what others think?
2 Cor. 8:2-the churches in Macedonia were persecuted, but they still had joy and just gave themselves (vs. 3) not caring what others thought
2 Cor. 9:11-13Give and the Lord will take care of you by blessing you with a joy in giving and the ability to give more
2 Cor. 11:3-Paul was afraid the church would compromise and lose its purity by thinking it needs to compromise and impress others in the world. Godly purity is giving yourself totally to Him, all of you, not caring what the world thinks.
Eph. 6:5-Obey your masters and give them your everything
Col 3:22-Obey not to impress your master but to please God
So "Simple" is simply this: just serve God with your everything and who cares what others think!
I agree, we should then not care about what others think, how criticizers critique, complainers complain; as long as we are serving how God wants us to. You see, before we can serve in simplicity, we must realize that our service in God's grace must be done upon the platter of God's Truth.
We should enjoy serving God without fearing what others are saying or thinking....as long as what they are saying or thinking is not the Truth. You see, I fear the "simpler days" maybe ones for some who don't want the perfecting process of God's truth to continue in their lives. Instead of seeing Truth as a gift of simplicity, they see Truth as a judge and condemner.
I probably have made a great complexity out of simplicity; but my prayer is that we will see simplicity for what it is-by God's grace serving upon the foundation of the Truth. That's what all those people in paragraph 1 were doing if we are honest.