Choices, choices, choices.
My TV already had umpteen-hundred channels before “on demand!” digital channels added a plethora of other options. Despite this, I struggle to decide what to watch. In most towns and cities, you are spoiled for choice when choosing a venue for a meal or to meet friends for a coffee.
The advertising industry spends (and earns) billions by trying to convince us that the choice we’ve made may not be the right one. That we should chose THEIR product in order to make our life better.
Recently, my aged iPhone died. In general I liked it, but had begun to find the number of choices it offered very distracting. With all of my social networking apps, kindle books, films and music on one device. I found it very hard to concentrate on any one thing for a length of time. While reading a Kindle book (after agonising over which to read) I would find myself remembering that I had Facebook and Twitter to check… oh and emails to send…and a new podcast to listen to…and an MP3 playlist to compile… The list goes on.
I was loath to shell out a small fortune on a new iPhone and so, weary of all the distraction, I bought a much more basic Nokia. It was a bit of a step of faith, away from my old smartphone addicted life, but the new phone does all that I really need. It makes and receives calls and texts, has a calculator and alarm clock but struggles to cope with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube etc. The solution? I don’t have any social network, games or media apps installed and the lack of distraction is very liberating.
Now, when I’m on the train, I read a book. The only book I happen to have in my bag at the time. The phone’s memory card is small and so I just listen to the one album that I have installed. From start to finish, the way albums are meant to be listened to. I check my emails when in front of a computer (which is generally a few times a day) and if people want me in a hurry, they call or text. Simpler is, in many ways, better.
In the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, we see how God’s Law was laid out in finite detail for the people of Israel. It was an exhaustive list given by God to guide His people but must have been terrifically difficult, indeed impossible, to follow to the letter. Even more so, the length and complexity of the Law required priests to remember its detail and interpret for the people. Human nature meant that ultimately, some religious leaders became legalistic at the expense of respect for God or compassion for their fellow humans. Baffling them with its complexity and using it to distract them from its true purpose.
Jesus knew this and when the Pharisees were trying to trick him, Jesus’s response was beautifully simple:
One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question:
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40 (NLT)
The essence of the whole law distilled into two phrases:
Love other people.
Like the meerkat in the insurance advert says, “Simples!”
Of course, living up to Jesus’s standard for those commandments is a different matter altogether, but at least they are easier to remember!
Choices and variety often make life interesting, but it can be so much better when you simplify.