Hi, I’ll have a Caramel Macchiato, Venti, Skim, Extra Shot, Extra-Hot, Extra-Whip, Sugar-Free.

I had gotten in line in Starbucks, excited to enjoy my iced soy chai and do a bit of writing, when the person in front of me ordered the most complicated drink known to mankind. The drink above isn’t exactly what she ordered, I couldn’t possibly remember all of the words she used to describe her caffeinated beverage, but you understand my point. She had taken this thing, the wonderful simplicity of coffee, and made so many modifications that no one knew what it was any more.

How often do we unnecessarily complicate God?

In the Bible there was a unique group of people who had specialized in taking the things of God and making them more complicated, adding distance between the “lay-people” and God. These people were called the Pharisees and were some of the villains in Jesus’ story. The Pharisees had managed to add rules to God’s word, emphasizing the impossibility of people coming to God, while making themselves seem as though they had it all together. Imagine what the people of Israel must have felt like. They were beaten down and burdened by the rules and the regulations religion had set. Then Jesus showed up.

Matthew 11:27-30 says:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Jesus’ message was simple: come. That’s it. His words were dripping with love and grace and kindness, inviting people into a relationship with God, something they had always been denied because of the separation of sin. That’s it. Jesus’ loving words, the loving phrase “come”, was all he needed to say. He added no frills or stipulations or regulations or conditions, he summed up his whole message in that one word.

The complicated customer from my story earlier was a barista herself, ordering a drink to enjoy on her break. She knew more about the menu, the products, the ingredients, and chose to complicate things that didn’t need to be that way. She added ingredients and extras and eliminated others to make it fit what she wanted in that moment.

I’m guilty of the same thing. While my Starbucks order is one of the simplest to make, I’ve made a much graver mistake; there have been times when I’ve overcomplicated God. I’ve added more judgement and removed some grace. I’ve asked for room and passed on the extra dose of love when I or someone near me needed it the most. I’ve overlooked certain verses or traits of God because those didn’t quite fit within my paradigm at the time. I’ve modified my view of God to make things more convenient for myself.

God is both simple and complex.

This is a conundrum to me. God is simple and his message is simple: humanity was separated from God because of sin. God loved humanity so he fixed it, not through rules, but relationship. His message is the same as it was 2,000 years ago: come. Yet, at the same time, God is all of these seemingly contradictory things: loving and just, gracious and mighty, ruler and father, the list can go on and on. God is infinitely complex and we will, for all eternity, be consistently discovering new facets to his character, a new beautiful aspect of him because he is so varied. Yet, each one of those complexities is rooted in simplicity: he is love and he loves us.

Our society is plagued by complexity, from our Starbucks order to our traffic patterns to our entertainment to our relationship statuses, things just seem to be complicated. Lately I’ve found myself longing for simplicity, wanting to declutter and get rid of the complications in my life. I’m discovering there is a beauty in simplicity that is often and easily overlooked. I’m coming back to the simplicity of the Gospel and finding joy in responding to Jesus’ simple instruction: come.

Jesus is extending this same invitation to you. Whether you’ve never met Jesus or known him your whole life, the God of the universe wants you to be closer to him. Will you come?

Where in your life can you simplify? Where is God calling you to simplify? The answers to those questions may be different. If you don’t know the answer right away, that’s okay. Spend some time with him, inviting his simplicity and rest into your heart and life.

Photo submitted by: Bethany Marie

Sarah Callen

Sarah was raised in Tucson, Arizona, but now lives in Dallas, Texas. Currently working a 9 to 5 job, in her spare time she loves to be with friends and do anything creative that her hands find to do. She believes every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.

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