This is the first of the series on Preaching the Divine Attributes.
It’s complicated . . .
The part that comes next doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, it won’t be good. Complicated relationships? Bad. Complicated questions? Bad. Complicated answers? Bad.
To make the point a bit more pointedly, here’s a challenge: can you name even one time you’ve finished a job, turned to a friend, and said, “well, at least that was complicated”?
I didn’t think so.
Few things are as universally negative as complexity. Unfortunately for us, few things are as universally true as life’s complexity. Why is it so hard to pay the bills? To raise the kids? To be a good husband or a good wife? Why are friendships as easy to break as they are tough to build? Why (to use the words of Saint Paul) is it so hard to do what my will intends?
Because we’re complicated creatures, whose emotions, intentions, thoughts, and desires swirl chaotically around that mysterious center-point we call our soul. Arriving at self-knowledge is a little like trying to grab a tornado with one hand. Coming to know ourselves and others is like trying to double-fist them. It’s no wonder we mess things up: wherever we go, we trail behind us the twin tornadoes of “me” and “you,” like riotous toilet paper stuck to the back of both shoes.
And that’s before we add sin to the mix. Sin speeds up the whirlwinds, launching cow-, tractor-, and house-sized problems at our already-rickety lives. It separates us from God, separates us from each other, and even separates us from ourselves. To shift metaphors slightly, sin sets us adrift without port or anchor in a storm of our own devising.
Who can save us from our sins? Who can calm the chaos of our lives? Who can simplify our complexities?
Only someone entirely free from all complexity and chaos. Only someone who is totally, perfectly, and radically simple. Only God.
Nothing disturbs God. Nothing rattles him. He is not plagued by self-doubts or second-guesses. Simply put, God is pure simplicity (and that italics is crucial: there’s no division in God at all—not in his love, not in his thought, not even in his being). And when God enters our lives he brings that simplicity with him.
Jesus Christ took on all the complexities of our humanity so that we can take on the simplicity of his divinity. Full of love and compassion, Jesus once said to a friend, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary” (Lk. 10:41). He says the same to us today. And what is that one necessary thing? The God of divine simplicity himself.
When we focus on him, everything else falls into the background. When we make him our all, nothing else matters. When God becomes our simplicity, our peace, and our joy, he stills the whirling complexities of our lives, and we begin to hear his voice in a calming whisper: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all the rest shall be yours as well” (Mat. 6:33).
Jackson Pollock: Shimmering Substance