The simple life



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

The simple life

June 18, 2008    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011   
tparham@flumc.org     Orlando {0869}

NOTE: A headshot of Whitaker is available at http://www.flumc.info/photo_gallery2.shtml.

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

The dramatic increase in the cost of gasoline is beginning to cause many of us to change our lifestyle. Before we get into a vehicle, we ask, is this trip really necessary? Before we make a purchase, we ask, do I really need this? It is ironic how the cost of consuming threatens the lifestyle of consumerism.
 
Out of necessity we begin to imagine a different way of living, a way that is less expensive, less hectic and less complicated. The challenges we are facing can be an incentive to rediscover the Christian vision of a simpler way of living.
 
The simple lifestyle is celebrated in Scripture and the Christian tradition. Jesus taught us, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.” He asked, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing (Matthew 6:25-35)?” The apostle Paul said, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have (Philippians 4:10-14).” In the Christian tradition of spirituality, saints down through the centuries have found the freedom of living simply.
 
The simpler lifestyle liberates us from the waste, rush and noise that distract us from the practices that nourish our bodies, minds and hearts. In this freedom we discover joys such as walks in the fields and woods, conversation with our spouses or friends, making things with our hands, reading, prayer and worship.
 
In my own life, I confess that I have alternated between living more simply and drifting into consumerist patterns. This drift happens because it is easier and more convenient to consume than to be in control of my own practices. Choosing the easier way becomes the pattern of my life. Yet, despite my inconsistency and failures, I have learned something of the truth of Jesus’ wisdom that our life does not consist of always having and doing, but in learning the joy of being content with the blessings that cannot be purchased.
 
The spiritual rewards of a simpler lifestyle also provide hope for a better world. We cannot continue living as we have and avert the growing environmental crisis. We have become addicted to ways of living that are destroying God’s good creation. Changes in our behavior are very difficult, but they are easier if we can capture a new version of a higher quality of living by being more simple.
 
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*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Conference.




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