Perhaps I’ll be called a religious simpleton for advocating for simplicity, but that’s okay, it helps me make my point. Innocence really does invite simplicity. We can see it around us and we can make a case for it in Scripture.
For starters, the Bible has a way of boiling issues down to their essence while leaving large gaps that could be filled in with all kinds of complicated details on how something might play out in a person’s life. It was written in a way that was understood by laymen of its time. The most important issues can still be understood by laymen. The rest is probably misunderstanding by modern people of historical context.
Jesus, in Matthew 18:3-4 says: Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. – ESV
There are all kinds of characteristics children have that we could get into when discussing what it means to become like a child. But one thing most of society can agree on is that children are innocent. Not that they never sin. But that somehow, their hearts are not corrupted by it as much when they do. And they are not as deeply ensnared in it as adults are. Somehow it seems they are kept in innocence as a model for those who have forgotten the innocence we all once had.
The other thing they have, that seems to come as a direct result, is simplicity. This doesn’t mean stupidity. It means they are content with simple answers, if the simple answers cover the truth of a matter. As adults fall into sin and lose their innocence, they start producing complicated answers to life’s questions as a way to excuse their behavior. I know. I’ve been there.
Loss Of Simplicity
We have truckloads of material delving into human psychology, trying in the most complex ways, to figure out why people do what they do. While some of this is legitimate, much of it seeks to explain away in a complicated fashion, why people do evil things. And they give long complicated solutions to people’s problems—most of the time concluding that there is no solution and the best we can do is manage our problems. In complicated ways.
A Simple Message
The Bible has a simple explanation and demonstration for the problem of evil in the world. Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and became corrupt to the core. Even his DNA became corrupt and he passed his evil tendencies to his children, all the way to modern times. The solution is just as simple. Our old identity or person, with its corrupt DNA must pass away, and a new man must be born in the Spirit. This process is also simple: Repent of your sins and believe that Jesus—the second Adam with no sin—paid the penalty for them. He will give you a renewed spirit that wants to do what is right and shun what is evil.
If we do this, we begin the process of becoming children again. Our innocence is being restored day by day, as the Lord refines us and takes away lingering evil in our lives. And subsequently we are once more satisfied with simple answers to life’s questions. If the Bible says something, we believe it in simple faith, not needing further complicated philosophical reasoning.
And so, in modern times, Christians are labeled simpletons and anti-science, by people who insist on complicating life. Most Christians seem to react to this negatively, as if it’s a stigma they resent. I’ve learned to shrug it off. There is something special about living life in simple faith and obedience to the Lord that the intelligentsia may never experience. Let’s not envy or emulate something that has no value. Rather, let’s humble ourselves like children as the verse above indicates.
We Are Still Called To Seek
This doesn’t mean we can’t search out deep things when it is needed. It means we are content with simple answers when they cover the truth. We don’t need to add to what God has already declared. Our default should be to search for things in simplicity. Knowledge is still valuable—I’m not speaking against it. Hosea 4:6 points out that God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. And John 8:31-32 says the truth will set us free.
So there is a pursuit of knowledge and truth that is noble and humble. It is right and good for us to pursue it with all our hearts since they lead to life and freedom. But the wrong kind of knowledge—or perhaps knowledge only for the sake of knowledge—puffs up according to 1 Corinthians 8:1. So, as always, there is some balance and a measure of discernment we are called to walk in by faith, even as we seek to live a life of simplicity.