17 April 2010 (Shibi'i/Sukkot)|
Day #33, 5934 AM
The Bible in 50 Words
Between Simplicity of Heart
and Being a Simpleton
Some religions and philosphies are very complicated. This is, in major part, because when you try to reduce them to a few simple truths, you end up with contradiction and disjunction. For this reason I am often impressed by children's insights into the Gospel simply because the Gospel was designed to be understood by them. If we can't explain the Gospel so that a child can grasp it, then we have likely not grasped it ourselves either.
"I (Paul) am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one Husband (Yah'shua), that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Messiah. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Messiah [Yah'shua]" (2 Cor 11:2-4, NKJV).
At the same time I am not saying we should over-simplify or assume that every nuance of the Gospel is simple. Not at all. Neither should be assume that Yahweh wants us to be simpletons. He gave us brains capable of great intellect, and hearts capable of great love. Sometimes people choose to be 'simple' simply because they want to avoid the responsibility of growing up:
The Gospel has great depth and as we penetrate the mind and heart of Yahweh we can be astounded by the complixity of it all. And yet the core remains simple and if we miss that, we miss the Gospel. Thus Paul counselled the Corinthians who, in spite of their spiritual childishness, fancied themselves as great intellects:
"How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge" (Prov.1:22, NKJV).
What simplicity is the apostle speaking of?
"For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of Elohim, and more abundantly toward you" (2 Cor.1:12, NKJV).
Another translation, following the Aramaic original, says that "in the simplicity of their heart, they were praising Eloah (Yahweh), while finding favour before all the people..." (HRV). These were the Torah-observant "people" in Jerusalem and not, as the Alexandrian mutilation (that forms the basis of modern translations) reads, "before all the world". In other words, these were not people who had watered-down the Gospel as has happened in the West but were still observing Yahweh's commandments and lifestyle. Their simplicity was in the unpretentiousness of their hearts, the genuineness of their testimony and the authenticity of their anointing by the Ruach haQodesh.
"So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread (eating meals together) from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising Elohim and having favour with all the people" (Acts 2:46-47, NKJV).
I have made a diagram to explain this simple core and where it is we are to begin as children of faith. As we mature so we qualify our loving by the way we live, honour Yahweh and treat other people more specicifically, first in the summary of Torah known as the Ten Commandments and then as fully mature believers in the rest of the mitzvot or commandments:
Our simplicity of heart and simplicity of worship resides in the core which is loving Yahweh with everything and then loving everyone else as we love ourselves. This is the core expression of the Gospel. But how would you summarise the whole Bible? Some children were once asked to summarise the Bible in 50 words and this is how one (anonymous) child expressed his understanding of Holy Writ:
Simple but brilliantly concise. May you in your turn find ways of sharing the Gospel in its simplicity before you start making it more complicated!