Take a look at this picture. This was front-page news, above-the-fold breaking information that came out this week in my local paper.
Yes, it is an article about a man being reunited with his favorite fishing pole after a 50-year separation. You can just see the look of joy on his face! You can hear the rush of excitement in the voices of the man who found the rod and the man who lost the rod. Can I just say that I love where I live?
Our front-page news is often like this. Usually, it is a beautiful picture of waterfowl, a big fish, or a Boy Scout taking an oath. These things constitute ‘big doin’s’ in this part. My husband and I always chuckle when the paper comes. We are blessed and delighted to live in this simple place.
Many of us have a yearning for this kind of simplicity in a community. Headlines and news programs literally scream at us with words that are harsh, complex, divisive, and distressing. We live in a broken world and our media reflects that on a daily/hourly basis. Oh, to go to a place and time that is easier!
Our lectionary passage speaks about “rich simplicity.” Paul connects simplicity with “being yourself before God” in this pastoral epistle to Timothy, probably written in A.D. 62-66.
1 Timothy 6 (The Message)
6-8 A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.
What a picture Paul paints here. If we can keep our needs and wants in line with what we actually need to live, that’s enough. This surely begs the question about “stuff.” How much stuff do you have? How much stuff do you need? I have a friend who deeply dislikes all the storage units that have popped up on our island. Sometimes they are needed when you are between house moves, but a lot of it is just stuff we have acquired and can’t fit into our houses.
My closet reflects this. It is always a good exercise to look through your things and consider that if you haven’t worn something in months (years?) it probably isn’t that necessary to you.
Paul then moves on to the love of money:
9-10 But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.
Can it get any plainer? Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Have you ever compromised your principles because the lure of money got the better of you? If people didn’t do that, there wouldn’t be a lottery program in every state. What can we do?
Paul says to run.
11-12 But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.
Run for your life from all of this. Run toward the goal that is Christ Jesus. Run to the beauty that is righteousness. Run toward wonder, faith, love, steadiness and courtesy. You remember courtesy, don’t you? Just run.
In essence, Paul says just to keep it simple, and run toward the life to which God called you. Be yourself before God.
But clean out your closets first!