Simplicity beyond complexity - Revd Lee Barnes

    Diocese of Bristol
    23 October 2018

    Revd Lee Barnes, Priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity, Hotwells and St Stephen's Bristol, on rediscovering confidence in the good news of Jesus.

    “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity; but I would give my life for the simplicity the other side of complexity.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

    This quote will be familiar to many people. You may have heard it applied to different topics and understood in different ways. What does it say to you right now? Interpretation. We all have the ability to interpret anything in our own way or apply anything to our ‘situation’.

    Sometimes interpretations are right, truthful and with integrity. Other times, they are wrong, misleading but also with integrity. So how have you been interpreting the things of God, the Bible, prayer, church, and faith in your life? Content with the answer?

    The fascinating quote from Holmes has intrigued me, forgive me if I interpret it wrong but I think it applies to a faith journey for some people. We start with simplicity (Truth is not complicated, Bible says so and that is it, I know who I am in Christ, Issues in the world affirm my view of God) to complexity (Truth is subjective, Bible does not relate well to life, I am not sure who I am in Christ, Issues in the world challenge my view of God) to simplicity (Truth is discoverable, I can know who I am in Christ, God is not removed from the issues in the world). 

    It is this latter simplicity that I am passionate about, as I want people who find themselves stuck and struggling in a world of complexity to once again rediscover confidence in the good news of Jesus, engagement with the Bible, discover their identity in God but at the same time, not ignorant of the faith-challenges. It is a choice to keep moving forward in our faith.

    I do not believe, although we may all experience moments, that ultimately you are ‘a distant memory in the mind of your creator’ (Nick Cave: Jesus Alone, 2016). I believe there is still the voice of God communicating in and through the noise of the world. I believe we can discover a rich, meaningful, purposeful and engaged relationship with a living God. 

    There is simplicity to be found on the other side of complexity… are you coming?