Simplicity is not something that we naturally gravitate towards as a people. Just about every human institution, left to it’s own devices, will grow too complicated. We saw this recently with one of the largest corporations in the world—General Motors. As you are well aware, GM has been involved in bankruptcy proceedings in recent months. One of the things that they had to do as part of the bankruptcy was to simplify their organization. As a result, they closed factories, they sold some of their divisions like Saturn and Hummer. They also began the process of phasing out other divisions like Pontiac. They said that they were going to focus their energies on just a few of their most successful divisions. I suspect that the organizational chart at GM looks much different now than it did prior to the bankruptcy.
We mustn’t overlook the “health-insurance reform” bill that is being debated right now either. Right or wrong, the goalof this bill is clearly not simplicity. We are told that the bill is over 1000 pages long. If you wanted to, you could read it at thomas.loc.gov—search HR3200. Some of the opponents of the bill have pointed to it’s complexity by creating this flowchart to describe the complexity. On a more experiential level, every year we get to sample complexity when we file those dreaded federal income taxes. Don’t you miss the days of filing the 1040-EZ over the telephone?
It’s not just corporations and governments that are too complex. Churches also have a tendency toward complexity. Churches have a very hard time stopping things that are ineffective, often starting new programs and activities without discontinuing older ones that do not work. This results in most churches being far too complicated.
We are fortunate, however, that our message is not in the least bit complicated. This is Paul’s words to begin 1 Corinthians 15—”Let me clarify the Gospel that I preached.” Then he says it in simple yet effective terms—”That Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.” That’s it. It’s that simple. All of our theology, all of our evangelism, all of our missions hangs on that simple, presentation of the Gospel. The fact that Paul needed to clarify that message seems odd, unless the Corinthians had already started to complicate the simplicity of the message. We must be diligent in our protection of the simple message of the cross, never complicating it, never modifying it, never deviating from it, lest we creep into subtle, yet destructive heresies.
Though our structures may be complicated, our message is not. Truthfully, we might do well as a people to let our message be the model for our methods—simple, yet effective; cross-centered and live changing. Thank God for the simple Gospel and for simple faith that brings us to salvation.
It’s That Simple,
Sermon audio can be downloaded in mp3 format by clicking here.