Against Complexity

Reflecting on the last week of this most unusual of years, the thing that stands out most for me was being involved in the family worship service. For those who don’t know me, choosing to don a hideously bright yellow t-shirt and dance around in the chilly Appleby Rooms on a Thursday afternoon is a long way from my standard idea of fun. I would normally be much happier reading a book, trying to write a bible study or, come to think of it, a whole host of other normal things. For those who do know me, you can be rightly shocked that I was there. But there I was anyway.

On Saturdays this year, I am trying to go on walks outside of Durham, to somewhere new each time. Recent highlights have included the very well-hidden Brancepeth Castle, Quarrington Hill and a couple of walks near Sunderland Bridge – I would highly recommend. It has been refreshing to see more of the scenery around this city that I have called home for 4 years, and a needed break from the necessarily higher than normal screen time.

Both of these have in common something that I have been thinking about for a while now, namely that a lot of the most important things that we come across in life are actually a lot simpler than we like to make them seem. Whether it may be marvelling at a creation so intricate and so vast and a sense of the simple perspective given on all that we busy ourselves with doing, I think that we (or maybe just me – that’s up to you) hide behind complexity in many aspects of life. Likewise, with faith. There is value in our theories on theological issues, debates going back and forth, and I am not one to ignore the deep insights that can be found there, but they do have their place. When the disciples were discussing which of them was the greatest, and asked Jesus for his thoughts, he didn’t give them a treatise on the meaning of greatness, or begin a discussion about the future nature of resurrection bodies. Instead,

“He called a child…and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’”. 

A child does not stay awake into the night wondering about what it means to be a child, or about the moral integrity of their parents. They simply love the parent who gave them life, and trust them. Maybe we need to be more childlike.