daily in one accord in the temple,
and breaking bread from house to house,
they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all people...
And the Lord added daily to the church
those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42 & 46-47)
“I am jealous for
you with godly jealousy,
for I have betrothed you to one husband,
that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
But I fear, lest somehow the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted
from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor 11:2-3)
Something about these scriptures
arrests my heart. Reading them awakens a desire, deep within, to pursue a life of
simplicity. To eliminate distractions and deception, to know that I’m living a
rich, full life, all for the glory of Christ.
So what does it mean to live a “lifestyle” of simplistic beauty?
“Lifestyle” is such a buzzword these days. We follow “lifestyle blogs” and “lifestyle vloggers”, and we’re incredibly blessed to live in a Nation where we have the freedom to create a lifestyle. We get to choose how we spend our time, how we decorate, how we spend our money, and how we can earn our money!
What an amazing luxury we’ve been blessed with.
But just like with any blessing, there is always a potential danger or trap that we must be aware of.
In a world of freedom and prosperity, the way we choose to live, is incredibly important.
Ever since we were little girls, we’ve been bombarded with messages about what our “dream life” could potentially look like.
For me, it all started with Barbie. My parents bought me her “Barbie Dream House” and I knew I would need one just like it, someday! All of the ads I saw and movies I watched, simply reinforced the fact that life would be best lived married to Ken, driving a pink convertible, living in Malibu.
It’s okay, laugh if you want to.
But you were fed messages like this as a young girl too.
Whether it was your favorite Disney movies, or memorable TV shows, your mind was bombarded with ideas as to what life might look like as an adult! Maybe you dreamed about attending a musical High School, riding a moped with your dream boy in Greece, or settling down in a quiet neighborhood with a white picket fence.
Let’s admit it. We’ve all picked up ideas along the way, about what our “ultimate reality” could look like!
Maybe your ideas weren’t shaped so much by secular media, as much as they were by other sources. Maybe you read “Kisses from Katie” and instantly envisioned yourself adopting little girls in Africa! Maybe your favorite YouTubers travel the globe and watching their endless stream of videos have implanted seeds of wanderlust and adventure within your soul!
Perhaps you read a book or heard amazing missionary stories from fearless hearts on the front lines in the Middle East.
Maybe following your favorite musical artist on YouTube has created a dream narrative in your head.
Do your favorite Instagramers display your dream closet?
Do you drool over Chip and Joanna Gain’s adorable little family farm?
Whether these influences, storylines, and images, have been good, bad, or somewhere in-between, that's really beside the point. My purpose in mentioning all of this, is for you to simply become aware of all things that have influenced you over the years.
Whether we realize it or not, we all have a dream “lifestyle” that we’re reaching for. Something we long to create.
Some of us cultivate gardens and beautiful outdoor spaces. Others create blogs and online community. Some write songs, others write stories. Some paint, some travel…but at the end of the day, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, our hearts are longing for something.
Our God-given nature as women to curate, design, and build our “Dream world” is absolutely normal, and I believe that if we have the right mindset about it, we can do it in a healthy, Christ-honoring way!
The desire to create and cultivate beauty is something that’s deep in our DNA. Just think about how you played as a child. You built with legos, drew on blank sheets of paper, managed your “household”, and pretended to juggle different occupations. You dressed up your dolls, decorated your room, and told your siblings what to do!
All of those activities were totally normal and healthy! As you tried on different hats within the world of imaginary play, you were exercising your God-given ability to dream, create, and cultivate beauty!
But just like I mentioned before, this wonderful gift we’ve been given from God to dream, design, and execute, can also be dangerous, if we’re not walking in alignment with Him.
With this endless parade of potential “lifestyles” daily scrolling before our eyes on Instagram, YouTube, and in media of all forms, it can be easy to get caught up in the deceptive rat-race.
Have you ever watched a beautiful, exhilarating, travel vlog, then felt depressed and utterly trapped in your bedroom?
Do you find yourself looking at adorable families and happily married couples, while battling with discontentment for your current lot in life?
Have you ever spent hours looking at adorable bedrooms on Pinterest, then found yourself frustrated with your current décor-budget and ungrateful for the space you’re in?
The Apostle Paul wrote: “But I fear, lest somehow the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Personally, I find that when I spend too much time filling my mind with lifestyles that don’t currently look like my own, I become like Eve, starring at the forbidden fruit, coveting with a heart of jealousy.
It’s almost like these messages and endless bombardment of media cause me to forget about all the abundant ways God has blessed me in this season, and gets me focused on everything I don’t have…just like what the enemy did with Eve.
Can anyone else relate?
It’s important that I pause here for a moment and insert an important disclaimer. I’m not in anyway saying that Chip and Joanna, fun-filled travel vloggers, or adorable Instagram accounts should be shut down and tossed out the window.
I believe there is immense value in admiring examples of people who are following their God-given dreams, breaking the boundaries on what people think is ‘possible’ or ‘normal’, and challenge us to grow in our thinking and expectations of what our lives could look like! I believe there is a time and a place to fill our minds with these things. They can challenge us and cause us to grow.
But, if we’re struggling with feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and are still battling to find contentment within our own lives, it might be wise to set things aside for a minute.
Acts chapter 2 talks about living with simplicity of heart.
“They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all people.”
Sometimes, we can spend so much time looking at what everyone else is doing, what everyone else has, where everyone else is headed…that we forget to slow down and praise God for what He’s doing in our lives!
Anyone who knows me very well, knows that I am a firm believer in pursuing your God-given dreams. If your hearts desire is to travel the world, I would be the first person in line to encourage you to go for it! I firmly believe in goals, practical actions steps, and persevering until we see our dreams realized.
As women, God has created us to be such visionary creatures. We, at our core, are unstoppable go-getters. I truly believe that every woman has the gift to see something, then design, persevere, and press through, until it becomes a reality.
So if this is who we are at our core, it’s easy to look at all of these dreams and ideas and say, “I want it!”
But sometimes, as dreamers and go-getters, we have to pause and ask ourselves, “What kind of lifestyle am I truly trying to create?”
Is it a lifestyle of simplicity?
Is it a lifestyle
that’s single-minded in pursuit of the King?
Is it a lifestyle that’s in alignment with the book of Acts?
Is it a lifestyle of fulfilling the Great Commission and obeying His commands?
Is it a lifestyle of making disciples?
If my “Dream Lifestyle” doesn’t revolve around these things…I fear that like Paul wrote, I might be walking in deception.
Having a family is beautiful. Traveling the world is amazing. Writing books, being an online influencer, or selling sold out shows on your stadium tour is stellar! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these lifestyles!
But what happens if we pursue all these things and neglect what truly matters?
What happens if we stand before the King of Kings and say, “Look at everything I accomplished! Look at all my trophies and accolades! Look at all my followers, look at all the people I positively impacted every day!”
Hmm. Perhaps we would be wise to ask ourselves, does Heaven measure success the same way that we do? Or does God have different standards for “a life well-lived”?
We can find all the answers to these questions in His Word. There, and only there, do we find the lifestyle Jesus commands us to live.
So does this lifestyle of the Gospel, a lifestyle of simplicity, love, and Heavenly-priorities, mean you cannot travel, have a family, start a business, etc. ?
Of course not! In fact, this is something I LOVE about how the Kingdom works; God’s children can live a lifestyle of faith and simplicity, no matter what their occupation, dreams, and destiny may be! God loves diversity, and so do I!
It think it is so fun to see the sheer variety of ways God’s kids are spreading His Kingdom on this earth! Our lives, missions, and callings, are just as unique as each of our fingerprints!
When we have our priorities strait, living in a state of simplistic beauty, we don’t get tangled up in the rat race, in the deception, of feeling like we’re not good enough, like we need to be growing faster, like our process is taking too long, etc.
The definition of simplicity is:
state of being unmixed or uncompounded, as simplicity of metals.
The state of being not complex, consisting of few parts.
Freedom from a propensity to cunning or stratagem, freedom from duplicity. Sincerity.”
When God’s people
in Acts 2 lived with simplicity of heart, it says they had favor with all
people. I think that’s amazing!
When we read the book of Acts and see how the church EXPLODED and the Gospel was spread like crazy, it gives me so much peace in knowing it didn’t come from slick marketing and long hours of strategy meetings. God’s people weren’t stressed or pulling their hair out, trying to figure out, “How can we reach more people!?”
It says that as they lived in simplicity of heart, they had favor with people. “And the Lord added daily to the church those who were being saved.”
I LOVE that. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” ?
He said, “I will build it.”
The early church
in the book of Acts didn’t worry about what came next.
They didn’t know the ultimate plan.
They simply knew that Jesus was going to build His church, and they got to be part of it. And the same is true for us! Isn’t that exciting?
I know that for me, when I read about this simplicity of heart, I long to grasp and understand what that truly means. To trust God with all the details, and to surrender my idea of a “dream lifestyle” in for His ideas!
Simplistic beauty is what we are called to.
The Gospel isn’t complicated.
The Great Commission doesn’t require intense stratagem.
Love is simple.
Jesus is simple.
Simplistic beauty, a life aligned with the Gospel, and prioritizing the heartbeat of Heaven, is the “dream lifestyle” I choose.
What about you?