Enough for him whom cherubim,

Worship night and day,

A breastful of milk,

And a mangerful of hay;

Enough for him whom angels

Fall down before,

The ox and ass and camel,

Which adore

(A Christmas Carol, Christina Rossetti)

It’s hard to imagine the King of the universe, the Word of God through which everything has been made, being content with a stomach full of milk, laying in a manger of hay. For the rest of humanity, our appetite grows in tandem with our influence and power. It’s rare to find someone who has achieved both of these elusive things, while still maintaining simple tastes and an attitude that humbly whispers compassion for others.

What, we might ask, can the picture of the newborn baby Jesus teach us? Concepts like contentment and simplicity come to mind. However, these concepts, when contemplating this infant narrative, cannot be boiled down to a simple naivety and blissfully unaware contentment within the context of this fallen world.

The Word became flesh and did not hesitate to enter into with full awareness of the permeating sin corrupting his beloved creation. Sent by the Father, the Son left his place of influence and power in heaven to be reviled as he rectified our wretchedness, repairing the relationship we had so callously cast aside.

He accomplished this despite the cost of his incarnation; understanding his entitlement but enduring impotency, recognizing his righteousness while relinquishing his rights. Fully conscious of his kingship, he would sacrifice his status for simplicity and serve the people that were specifically created to render their own service to him.

Born to die, the King eternal,

the host of heaven declares his glory,

Lord immortal his reply,

our sin and brokenness to decry,

not with shame to bind us here,

but with grace to draw us near.

(J. Owen Carroll)

So, as we enter this season of Advent, let’s not forget that our eyes and hearts should be drawn to Jesus, who serves as an example of what it truly means to engage in the contentment and simplicity only God provides.

But, let’s not forget that this engagement is never meant to take place solely in contemplative isolation. Our community of Christ-followers (Life Group) is an essential aspect of this spiritual pursuit. It is humbling how our own contentment and pursuit of simplicity radiates through the mutual connection we hold with the Holy Spirit, impacting, teaching, and comforting those around us in ways we could never imagine! And what a testimony this is to unbelievers! A worshipful life, lived in pursuit of the contentment and simplicity only God can provide, defies worldly paradigms and runs in direct opposition to the manner in which this Christmas season has been misappropriated by greed and commercialism. Nothing sets Christ-followers apart and declares God’s glory as a thoughtful rebellion against aspects of culture that seek to habitually distract us from our Savior.

Reflection Questions (and thoughtful steps to take):

In what areas of my life is God calling me to pursue simplicity and contentment? (Make a specific list of these things and pray over each one, asking God to reveal how these things distract you from the spiritual pursuit of simplicity and contentment.)

Who has God provided to speak into my life, confirming things I have discovered and revealing further areas in my life where simplicity and contentment are lacking? (Be brave! Take this person out to coffee and ask them to speak into your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart as he speaks through this person and prepares you to receive their words without becoming offended. Ask this person to continue to pray for you as you seek God’s will.)

What aspect of the way I communicate to non-believers, especially during the Advent season, represents God’s desire for Christians to pursue contentment and simplicity? (Think of the people you encounter where you live, work, and play. Don’t fall into the trap of false humility or over spiritualize your desire for these things. Be honest and let others know that you are far from perfect but are pursuing growth. This is a powerful witness!)

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