Friday, September 20, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Keep It Simple


My husband Keith wrote today's blog.  I'll spare you a sappy write up about how much I love and respect this guy.  I am thankful, however, to hear his praying heart and I hope you will be as well.


by Keith
How many times a day does your child ask you a question that is hard to answer with a simple explanation? 
I’ve tried to explain why the United States does not play Ohio State in basketball, why the United States soccer team played Mexico (instead of the Columbus Crew) at Crew Stadium last week, and why my children’s favorite Cleveland Brown running back was traded two weeks into the season (in exchange for a “draft pick. . . “). 

Ok, so most of these confounding questions are about sports and giving a sound answer is not life or death. 
But the truth is:

– there are many mysteries surrounding us,

– our kids have tough questions about those mysteries,

– and the answer (if we know it) may not be easy to explain. 

Some of these tough questions can even come out of the Bible.  Indeed, scholars have been trying to answer questions about God, his Kingdom, and our place in that story since the days of Moses. 
Thankfully, Jesus understood that some things are best kept simple.  When asked which is the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus replied: 
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40) 

A strikingly simple answer for the Pharisee “expert in the law” who was trying to test Jesus with that question. 
Paul reminded the churches in Rome and Galatia of this simple truth:

Romans 13:9.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:13-14:   You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

In James 2:8 we are told: “If you really keep the royal law        found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.”

This message is simple enough for even our littlest of children to grasp:  Treat others how you would want to be treated.  (See Luke 6:31)

Why shouldn’t I hit my big brother with a baseball bat?  Would you want him to hit you with a baseball bat?  (If your child is sincere they will say no, but if your child is 4 they’ll probably say yes)

Why should I listen respectfully when others are speaking?  Would you want others to listen respectfully when you are speaking?

Why should I stop to make sure my little sister is okay when she falls and scrapes her knee?  Would you want someone to stop and make sure you are okay when you fall off your bike and scrape your knee?

But this simple message wasn’t given to just the little children, it was given to everyone, including us very wise, know-it-all adults who still seem to have problems playing nice with others at work, or sharing the road with our “neighbors” on our morning commute, or leaving a mess behind us at Chipotle for someone else to clean up. 
Do to your co-worker as you would want them to do to you.  Treat other drivers as you would want to be treated.  Show the same courtesy of cleaning up your mess that you would want others to show you. 

As a colleague encouraged me last week, “Keep it simple stupid.”  (This is also known as the KISS principle 

If we remember Jesus’ simple message, “love the Lord your God with all your heart – and in the same way – love your neighbor as yourself” we can fulfill God’s commandment AND, in turn, we may more often find ourselves free of some needless stress and, just maybe, the beneficiaries of our neighbors love as well.

Today would you pray with me that our children would be reminded of this simple message in the midst of all the confusing circumstances that they may face as they grow up.

Jesus, thank you for giving us a simple, yet profound, truth by which we can live.  Lord, thank you that in a world full of tough questions and few easy answers you have simplified things in such a way that any of us can understand your commands.  Please help our children to remember this simple message in their relationship with you and in their relationship with others.  And Lord, thank you for loving us first and always.


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