Monday, March 28, 2011

Ripping the frills from this war-torn skirt

I used to think I was a no-frills kind of person. In fact, I formed my whole identity in high school around this belief. I didn't need what the world said I needed; I could live a "no-frills" life; I could cut my hair short and dye it black and say stuff you to the establishment.

I think I still like to think I'm a no-frills person. Give me a beautiful sunset and I'll be happy, I tell myself. The concept appeals to me. The kind of life where contentment reigns, where the simple things bring pleasure.

But then I look at my actual life, and so much of it is a striving for frills, for that next fun experience, that beautiful object, the next poignant sentence, the next beautiful song.

I'm actually not so no-frills after all.

But I worship a God of no-frills. Paul in 1 Corinthians shares how he chooses to live a no-frills life to give God the glory:

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."

The thing I love about Cross Cultures (where I work) is it's lack of frills. Every Thursday we meet in a pretty drab church hall (not ugly, just not beautiful either), sit around old tables and chairs, eating a home-cooked meal and talking about life. We come as we are. We have bible study in small groups that gather in the basement of the church. There is no fanfare, there is just us, the words of God and the seeds of faith.

I love this.

But then part of me dreams of making pretty handouts and decorating the hall and creating engaging videos and inventing a podcast for stories of how Jesus has changed lives. I want the frills, and even think that the frills will bring more fruit.

And then I realise the foolishness of my thinking. It's not about the frills, it's about the words of life.

Of course I rejoice in the creativity of God, and the creativity he's given us. I want to be creative and enjoy others' creativity. But I so often worship the works of my hands, resting on "man's wisdom" and not God's power.

In my heart I go and distort God's good world, seeking frills. But I have to re-learn that it's when the frills fade away that his wisdom will prevail.


Joshua Maule said...

Nice one. Ironically the greatest beauty comes out of this kind of humility anyway.

sophg said...

Yeah totally. One of the beautiful paradoxes of this life.

Arrowhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kath said...

thanks soph, this post is really thought-provoking. i'm nodding to myself as i read.