But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Corinthians_11:3
Christianity consists of reading the fine print. Did you notice that word, ‘simplicity’, there? Have you ever wondered why they had to hire Judas to betray Jesus? After all, Jesus only walked about with 12 apostles and a handful of disciples. It should have been easy to pick Him out.
And yet, it probably was not so easy to pick Jesus out from the motley crowd. Perhaps Jesus was as much a part of the crowd as anyone else!
Every painting I have seen of The Last Supper shows Jesus seated at the head of the table; but It probably was not so at the real scene. My contention is that most likely Jesus sat at the foot of the table and allowed someone else to sit at the head. In fact, I am sure He did. You see, we have such a strong worldly instinct in us that it will require a truly herculean effort by the Holy Spirit to completely root from us the corruption that has been sown into our hearts by the devil in this area; as in many other areas as well.
Did we say we understood God? Well, maybe we don’t! Jesus’ view of lordship and authority was so radical it would have staggered the most ‘balanced’ among us. He spoke to His disciples thus in Mark 10:42-45: “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
I am sure you would have found Jesus doing the most basic chores that any of His disciples would do. And it should come as no surprise to us that Jesus would choose the lowest positions even at table and that He did not appear the obvious leader among His disciples.
What about the Apostles of the Early Church? In 2 Corinthians_1:12 the Apostle Paul says, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.”
There is that word, ‘simplicity’, again. I wonder whether it’s not possible to take Paul’s words at face value. True, he tells the Galatians that they did welcome him as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus Himself (Gal. 4:14). But that does not mean Paul allowed himself to be placed on a pedestal. There are many instances in the Bible where we could prove that Paul lived as common a life as any of his followers.
The Christian faith is one of genuine simplicity – and we have no reason to try and twist that word, ‘simplicity’. We could only amplify it and the result will be ‘humility’, ‘meekness’, ‘unassuming’ or, to coin Jesus’ favorite phrase, a servant. Simplicity is simply being simple in the simplest form of the word.
In the Church today we find there are many complicated people, people with twisted personalities; and these people want to use the scriptures to defend and promote their cause. These are worldly people and their agenda is a carnal one. For example, a church ‘minister’ would want to be equated to a government minister! How so very wrong! I have seen churches where the pastor is held in such high regard and reverence that he is like a god in the midst of his people. In some churches you can feel even physical fear, sometimes intense, towards the leader. Many leaders promote these attitudes, for a lack of a revelation of God’s ways. And the poor sheep have to keep doing obeisance to a mere man in the conviction that they are worshipping and serving God.
On another front, I have heard preachers claim that Jesus’ gown was so expensive and that was the reason the Roman soldiers cast lots for it! What utter blindness. I assure you that had it been so expensive, Caesar would have claimed it!
Let us not try to serve the Lord in the spirit of this world. Christians and especially Christian leaders should learn to be simple folk, people who can sink to the lowest levels of other people’s lives, identify with them and experience first-hand the life that ordinary people are living. They should not be men and women who want to be recognized for their positions, but rather they should be men and women who have considered their ‘leadership’ position as nothing in the way of the understanding of this world. That is the real life that Jesus and the Apostles lived.
The Bible has a lot to say about Jesus in this regard. We read in Philippians 2:8 that although Jesus was God yet He sank in level and was “found in fashion as a man”. That means that Jesus put aside His position as God and became a man, an ordinary man. But it also says that He went beyond that and that He “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” We have not arrived there yet.
Man, instead of desiring to go down, desires only to go up! There is so much nonsense being tossed around about Christians being “King’s Kids”, and when this is played out in real life, the results are tragic and horrendous. Christians surround themselves with a worldly spirit, they become complicated and they remain bound in the flesh. At the other end of the see-saw, the lowest of God’s people are trampled underfoot because they are made to feel that there is a caste system within the Church.
Here in Africa, I have seen church leaders being fed chicken while their flock ate vegetables. Not that it is a sin to feed your church leader chicken… but you can get the drift of things even in such an ‘ordinary’ activity. But we see that Jesus and the Apostles lived a life of true simplicity, and there are cases of them refusing to even be recognized for who they were!
How could this be? How could these mighty men of God allow themselves to sink to such lowly depths in human terms? No doubt, this was not through human effort! The motivation and power to do this had to come from elsewhere.
By reading Jesus’ words and Apostle Paul’s letters carefully, we realize that this was only possible because Jesus and the Apostles had a revelation of what the Cross needed to do in their lives; and they submitted themselves to its working in their lives.
Today, more than ever, the Church needs a revelation of the Cross of Christ – not simply that He came to die for our sins, but that we, too, are required to crucify our carnal natures on that Cross.