Life being defined as simple and pure hasn’t felt genuine for an incredibly long time. Respectfully disagreeing seems to be a choice of the past, replaced recently with righteous indignation on the subject of the day. My heart is weary of the 24-hour news cycle which seeks to create mountains daily out of molehills or even ant hills.
Several weeks ago Jen Hatmaker chose to announce her opinion had shifted in the two years since she had first stated her thoughts on a very sensitive subject within the church. In less than a day, thousands of people had declared her to be a hypocrite, foolish, a liar and many called her faith in God into question.
Within two days multiple editorial pieces were posted either vilifying or praising her position. Disappointingly, most authors seemed unwilling to restrain their words instead choosing to berate those with opposing opinions. My heart couldn’t handle it. Where had the grace gone? Where was the humility of remembering we are all on a journey of faith and understanding? Further, I couldn’t understand then, nor do I grasp now how so many had concluded hate-filled words would sway anyone to consider an alternative view.
Just when it seemed best to turn off the commentary completely, Jennie Allen posted a beautiful, grace-filled response. I not only breathed a sigh of relief upon completion of Jennie’s words, but I began to take inventory of my own. As Jennie reminded us all:
I’ve got enough planks in my eye to keep me busy for my short years here.
I have seen hate rise up in my heart toward someone else.
I have chosen comfort rather than fighting injustice.
I have lived out of fear of man instead of fear of God.
I have wanted to be understood rather than seeking to understand.
I have shrunk back when I should have stood up.
I have stood up when I should have shut up.
Yet, I also have tasted the depths of Jesus’ great and unending love for me.
A review of this list reveals not one point can be excluded from my own list of previous failures. Thankfully, I also have tasted the depths of Jesus’ unending love. It is that enduring grace that gives me the courage to seek a life where simple and pure are a constant presence. I would be remiss to assume simple and pure would mean easy or smooth. I would be naive to assume that striving for simple and pure would be successful every time. Still, I cannot help but be drawn in by what simple and pure could look like for me personally as a member of my community, church, and family.
What does a simple and pure life consist of? To be honest, I’m still fleshing that out. I am also considering that it might be a constantly adjusting life, because when we know better, we do better. Jennie Allen cast a vision for a great starting place. Will you join me in the pursuit of a simple and pure life?
So, where we can all agree: Let’s do better here.
Let’s remember we are talking about people’s lives.
Let’s seek to understand.
Let’s please stop demonizing each other no matter where they fall.
Let’s lean on Jesus more than we ever have, to hold these tensions more graciously and let’s hold to God’s Word as we do.
Let’s confess our own sin rather than sitting on the internet speaking up about everyone else’s
The thing about a simple and pure life is that it creates space for two people who deeply love Jesus yet disagree on important passages of scripture to still spur each other on. A simple and pure life supports friends who have lived life together continuing to do so, while still disagreeing. A simple and pure life understands that our relationships with Jesus are personal and unique. It involves an understanding that it is God’s place alone to stir our hearts towards truth. It is our responsibility to seek him and develop the discipline of a discerning ear for God’s voice and guidance. Finally, a simple and pure life trusts that when we intentionally and open-heartedly ask for God to respond to our requests to know him better on in his perfect timing and perfect way.
As much as it is our responsibility to pursue a relationship with God, we are also called to encourage each other as brothers and sisters. Jamie Ivey’s post, also filled with tender words, reminds us “There’s no mean-spiritedness in saying that their interpretation of scripture is wrong. Just because someone opposes someone’s viewpoint and states it on the internet doesn’t equate to ‘meanness.’ ” It is not mean, but it is sometimes necessary.
The pure and simple truth is that if we search long enough, we will always find people to support our opinion. That doesn’t make our view accurate. As Jamie so concisely put it “God is love AND God is truth. We can’t separate those, and when we do, we risk presenting a false gospel to the world—a gospel that points people to a god of our own making, rather than the God of the actual Bible.”
I’m so thankful or women like Jennie Allen and Jamie Ivey who are willing to speak the truth even when it is unpopular by the standards of society. I’m deeply thankful for their willingness to not only speak the truth but to do with in love with continued friendship for someone they call a dear friend. Thank you, ladies, for your living example of how to do messy just a little bit more smoothly. Pure and simple may not always be easy, but it will always be glorifying to God.