The Burden of Complexity


Buying light bulbs used to be simple.

I would go to the store, find the portion of the isle that held light bulbs, find the ones I needed, and buy them. It took all of 30 seconds of my entire shopping trip.

Today it is an entirely different procedure. Light bulbs now take up most of an entire aisle. Gone are the days of hurrying into an aisle and grabbing a package. Now you have choices, and a LOT of them.

Your first choice is what kind of bulb. There are the old incandescents (for now), then there are the Compact Fluorescents, halogens, and LED’s. Buying lightbulbs has become not only an economic decision, but now a moral element has crept in. One bulb is suppost to be better for the planet than another. Of course, I will then weigh environmental impact vs. my ability to also buy food that week. I know LED’s will save me money 5 years from now, but spending $25 on a light bulb makes me want cry.

Once I have determined which type of light bulb to buy I now have the choice of what color. I don’t mean 70’s era colored bulbs: blue vs. red or green. I mean lights meant to recreate the light of the sun, or bulbs guaranteed to give off a warm glow and everything in between.

The end result of all of this complexity is that I will spend ten indecisive minutes choosing a light bulb, an action that used to take 30 seconds.

Complexity is not always progress.

At Rivertree we have been exploring the area of generosity. This is one of those areas that we have decided to make terribly complex, but it is an area that Jesus taught us about in stark simplicity. He takes the complex issue, and boils it down to a simple action step:

Give to those who ask.” (Matthew 5:42)

Does it get more simple than that?

When you are walking down the street and someone asks you for a dollar, what is your reaction? Most likely it’s to analyze the person’s apparent worthiness to receive said donation. This usually involves judging how they look or how they smell. We may decide, “If I give to that person, they will probably just spend it on booze.”  For some reason we have decided it is our job to judge the worthiness of the person who will receive the gift.

But that’s not what Jesus called us to do.

There is a great story of an encounter C.S. Lewis had with someone asking for money:

One day, Lewis and a friend were walking down the road and came upon a street person who reached out to them for help. While his friend kept walking, Lewis stopped and proceeded to empty his wallet. When they resumed their journey, his friend asked, “What are you doing giving him your money like that? Don’t you know he’s just going to go squander all that on ale?” Lewis paused and replied, “That’s all I was going to do with it.”

I love it! How often have you blown a dollar? How about five dollars?

Don’t allow complexity to keep you from being a generous person!