There has been something in the wind of our American culture, particularly as it relates to Christianity, that is starting to scare me a little. It is our search for simplicity.
This is different than a "live simply" mentality that I truly truly want to live, but struggle with every day. What I'm talking about is our desire to take really complex, detailed ideas and theories and try to boil them down to their most simple, most easy to understand, and easiest to swallow. I suppose we started with good intentions, to get everyone on board and to make things easier to learn. But I'm starting to notice that if it's not simple, some people want nothing to do with it. And the truth of the matter friends is that our faith in particular is not simple.
We do this in our culture all over the place, and I think largely because of our 24/7 style news media. Immigration becomes a wall, a global ebola crisis becomes "don't go over there," and honest to God partisan politics becomes "just disagree with whatever that guy has to say." The truth is the news media can't handle the complexity of some of these issues, and while we as Americans should demand more, we just take the bite sized chunks we're given and run with it.
But while that is disturbing, it's nowhere near as disturbing as the trend towards simplicity is to me in Christian faith and dialogue. In Biblical hermeneutics we see this very clearly. We are not interested in the details behind the text. We are not interested in the culture of the author. We are not interested in multiple interpretations, especially if those interpretations might challenge our world view. We would rather just have a "plain reading" of the text, as if the text were ever plain. We see it when it comes to theology. While sitting around debating theology for the sake of debate drives me absolutely crazy, it is true that there is a deeper world of faith that so many of us are not exposed to because we're afraid we "won't get it" or it will once again challenge that world view of ours.
If your world view can be challenged simply by exploring complexity, for the sake of your soul it needs to be challenged. We do not live in a simple world. We do not have a simple and straightforward God, who makes himself abundantly easy to understand (remember, His ways are not our ways). Yes of course, He reveals Himself to us, no more perfectly than in the person of Jesus Christ. But that's nowhere near the same thing as making himself simple. Quite the opposite, to reveal Himself to humankind the Son had to become a mathematical impossibility: 100% human and 100% divine.
All I'm saying is perhaps the next time you hear a soundbite, consider where the complexity is behind it. Consider the personal element to the stories you hear on the news. Consider diving into the scriptures just a bit deeper than the words on the page, into the heart of the God who gave us those words. Perhaps it's time to stop chasing simplicity, and start chasing God.