When I lost weight three years ago, people would ask me, “How did you do it?” They were always somewhat dismayed by my answer, “Diet and exercise.” (It’s amazing that doctors do, in fact, know what they are talking about in this matter.) Maintaining health is more of the same. It’s so simple, yet very difficult because it is a matter of being able to stay the course. I often struggle because I want to be done with being faithful in this area, but I won’t ever get to the point where being healthy is irrelevant. I won’t ever finish.
Matt and I have only one car at the moment, so we carpool every morning and afternoon. He’s had the habit of listening to Alistair Begg every morning on his way to work, so now that we drive together, I have the habit of listening to Alistair Begg. This week, he was talking about 1 Timothy 4. I was struck by this:
4:13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture,to exhortation, to teaching. 4:14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have, given to you and confirmed by prophetic words when the elders laid hands on you.4:15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that everyone will see your progress. 4:16 Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach.Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
As I read the Bible this morning, I also read about Naaman being healed of leprosy (1 Kings 5). Elisha instructed him to simply wash himself in the Jordan seven times. Thinking that advice too simple, Namaan dismissed it. His servants urged him to listen to the advice by saying, “O master, if the prophet had told you to do some difficult task, you would have been willing to do it. It seems you should be happy that he simply said, ‘Wash and you will be healed’” (1 Kings 5:13).
I was struck by simplicity in both of these passages. As a teacher, I often want to find some new thing to teach, something that no one else has taught. Something that wows ’em with my insight. Or, I want to prove my faith in Christ through some great deed. I’m tempted to complicate my faith simply to prove that it’s there and growing.
I wonder whether God wants the same for me. Does he put up crazy hoops for me to jump through or am I putting them up (or allowing others to put them up for me)? Could it really be that the Christian life really is as simple at reading the Bible, praying, and walking obediently with God? Could it be that the most important thing I can teach is Christ? Like Namaan, I want to dismiss that advice as being too simple.
Shouldn’t I be happy that I simply need to wash and be healed in God’s presence?