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27 October 2008

It All Comes Down to This

If you're like me, you struggle to find balance between the following:

1. Boiling things down to their lowest common denominator.
2. Trying not to oversimplify things that require complexity.

Let me give you an example of this tension: There is a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Franklin Covey. I absolutely love the way he boils down "effective living" into 7 easy to remember habits. In fact I used to teach the 7 Habits in therapy group. I felt if they (the group members) could just implement a few of them they'd be better off than when they came to see me.

But at the same time I understood that it would be crazy for me to look at the 7 Habits as the end all cure for them. Or that in some way they would make their lives perfect so that they would never be in need of training or education at a more complex level.

But still, I LOVE it when you can take something complex and boil it down to bullet points. Or better yet drawings like Dan Roam suggests in his book, The Back of the Napkin. There's just something magical about it. Even though there is always the understanding that a more complex explanation exists.

The Parables
This is one of my favorite things about the life of Jesus. He modeled the fact that both are equally important. He loved to boil it down for people (and even His Disciples) by telling stories (parables). These illustrations from daily living made sense to people - helped them understand the more complex concept without the barrier that the complex creates.

And He loved them too much to leave them there. Instead He would explain what "seeds sown on good ground" for example actually meant. And slowly move to the more complex as they were able to handle it.

My Attempt
So the other day I again found myself trying to boil the complexities of life down into a few bullet points. I know the underlying complexity is HUGE, but realized just how potent these two statements are in helping us answer life's many questions:

  1. We are beings created by a loving God.
  2. We are fallen (and thus doomed) beings who can choose to be saved by that loving God.
The average Christian just went, "Duh...yes...tell me something I don't know." But belief in the statements isn't what makes them powerful.

They are powerful because they remain true if we believe them or not. Like gravity, which remains in effect for me and you regardless if we believe we'll fall off the cliff or not.

Go ahead and think about it this week. One of these statements could be the answer to a question you have. One of these statements could help you choose a course of action. Maybe you stop doing something you've always done. Maybe you start looking at life a bit differently.

What impact could it have on a person if they truly lived as if they were created by God that offers to save us from certain death?

YES! The complexity is there. But the simplicity of these two statements is mind boggling...