When Kurt and I were falling in love, something that immediately bonded us together was the desire for simplicity. We’d often say, “It doesn’t have to be that hard,” and then chuckle smugly at those poor souls with multiple children, a mortgage, work stress, going to bed early, and making life so hard.
And then we grew up and became real people. We had multiple children, a mortgage, work stress, went to bed early, and life was so hard. Decisions were complicated, marriage was a whole thing, even leaving the house was difficult. As our lives became harder and more complicated, I found myself complicating Jesus, too. He became a lot pickier, all according to my tastes and desires. He wants everyone to dress like this, He wants you to not drink alcohol (or definitely drink alcohol), He loves these people but not these people, He wants you to get all cleaned up inside and out before He wants you.
What a bunch of crap.
About a year ago when Bright Chapel was being formed, God started revealing these prejudices to me, and I realized how exhausted I was and, really, how utterly sick of myself and the Jesus I had molded to my own image.
Jesus never changed. I changed. I added hoops and parameters and stipulations to literally the most basic concept in the world: love.
Jesus said, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
He loved and was close friends with all types of people – doctors and fishermen. Prostitutes, women, tax-collectors and children all were transfixed by Him. He had church in a field, in a boat, over dinner. He formed relationships and made people fall in love with Him. You know who Jesus had no patience for? People like me. Those who attached strings to their relationship with the Father. Jesus was all about simplicity. He made it not hard. TRUE love isn’t complicated.
God started working on this message with Bright Chapel’s leadership and what this church is going to be about. We’re talking about things like, “What is church?” Turns out, it’s just a gathering of people learning about Jesus. No rules, no white robes and Sunday bests, just hanging out together. We’re talking about, “Who is God?” He’s Love, He’s Present, He’s our Provider, He’s our Father.
And so I’ve begun identifying and stripping myself of my preconceived notions once again. I’m focusing on His Love, just His Love. Falling in love with Him again. In the process, funnily enough, my life is becoming less complicated; every decision less difficult, leaving the house simpler. I’m renewed instead of exhausted, I’m at peace instead of striving, I’m free instead of imprisoned. There’s a beautiful song that says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full at His wonderful face. And the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His Glory and Grace.”
Are we making our love for Jesus too hard? Are we making His love for us too complicated? Can we simplify today and realize He doesn’t want us clean and perfect and inflexible and legalistic and insular. He only wants us to fall in love. It doesn’t have to be that hard.