Living Simply

By Pastor Susan Humbert

Ask my kids. Recalled moments from their childhood would almost undoubtedly include movies enjoyed in togetherness, everything from Alice in Wonderland and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Prince of Persia and Zathura. One of our favorites when they were in middle school was High School Musical. “I Want It All,” a song from this frolicking trilogy, is the very antithesis of this chapter’s topic. The following constitutes the bridge positioned within the verses:

“Bigger is better, and better is bigger, a little bit is never enough.”

This little ditty could have been entitled, “The American Dream,” a concept on which I cut my young adult central and lateral incisors. Same tune, different words, “Bigger, better, faster.” “Look out for Number One.” “Get as rich as you can.” “The sign of success is financial wealth.”

Please allow me some space to provide an antidote, if you will, the Reader’s Digest version of Luke 12:16–21, a spoonful of remedy for these worldly and attractional pursuits:

Jesus warned a crowd of people that a person’s life does not consist of the sum total of his/her possessions.  Through a trademarked parable, he began to impart a story of a rich farmer who tore down perfectly good barns to build bigger ones for all of his accumulation.  With self-admiration and reflection, he said to himself, “Self, look at all your stuff!  You’re on easy street!  Eat, drink and be merry.” But the God of the universe showed up that very night and took his life. Jesus concluded the lesson with his counsel, “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  A closer look at this picture reveals a tangled web woven with threads of self-indulgence, self-importance, self-consumption, self-absorption, conceit, vanity, and arrogance, and all the while that farmer was the spider gleefully weaving his own tangled and poisoned mesh.

What’s the answer?  A life full of simplicity.  It’s un-American, but a dream worth the pursuit.