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Christians Are Called to Live a Life of Simplicity to Imitate the Simplicity of Jesus

I have meditated on the Christmas and Easter story every Christmas.

Archaeology Searches For Jesus' Early Life in Nazareth

I have meditated on the Christmas and Easter story every Christmas.

It's one of those magical stories which speak to everyone. To the poor and down-and-out, as most of humanity have been for most of time, and to the up-and-out.

Joseph and Mary, forced to migrate at the behest of a colonizing power to Bethlehem, where they were homeless, while she labored with her illegitimate child, the child of scandal. She places the baby in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.

If Jesus was–as I believe he, of course, was– God himself, He could have chosen a blaze of earthly glory to make His presence felt. He could have chosen a throne. But He chose to come to a colonized and oppressed people, to be born of a woman pregnant before her wedding day; He chose an unhygienic manger for His crib, thereby exalting the simplest and humblest of choices.

But God connected him. He could not be hidden. An angel, no less, announces His birth to shepherds, announces that Jesus is the way to joy, that there is peace to men of good will. Wise men, Magi, saw a new star, heralding the birth of the King of the Jews, and followed it to the child, giving him precious gifts, gold, frankincense or perfume used in censers in the temple, and myrrh, used in anointing oil for kings and prophets.

Angelic voices hailing Him; shepherds worshipping Him; distant Kings lavishing precious gifts on Him.

To a lesser extent, that will be the path of all Christ's followers... unmerited scandal, rejection, undeserved suffering, perhaps patches of poverty. Christ did not escape them–he held his head high whatever shame was heaped on him—and neither shall we.

Christ's example compels some to choose the path of voluntary downward mobility... Saint Francis and Mother Teresa, Jackie Pullinger, Heidi Baker and all those who work in inner cities. That is not a call I hear.

A call I do hear is the call to simplicity. Simplicity in clothing, in make-up (or the lack of it!), simplicity in furniture, in choices of food or holidays. Simplicity whenever possible; find the simplest option, God is more likely to be found there in the time and soul-space it frees up. Simplicity for the sake of our own souls; simplicity because our time on earth is limited and should be well-spent; simplicity because complexity is a waste of self and time and spirit; simplicity because there are poor on this earth; simplicity because of Christ. While voluntary downward mobility is a call to a few Christians, voluntary simplicity, I believe, is a call to all Christians, to all sane people.

But to the manger unasked for came gold, frankincense and myrrh, precious gifts Mary accepted on behalf of her precious son, gifts which sustained them when refugees in Egypt. So if and when through hard work or God's favor, these colorful gifts appear, accept them with a grateful heart, enjoy the good things of this transient world, never losing sight of the gift of simplicity, or the gift of Jesus and His counter-intuitive teachings which are the way to the great joy the angel promised.

Anita Mathias is a writer, blogger, reader and Mum. You can find her at

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