I’m Over Overcomplicating It

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.
Philippians 3:8 (NLT)

About a year ago, I got stuck in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. I’m still there. These letters are the ones where he writes to the church that has gathered after the death of Jesus, within a few years, actually, and have already made a mess of it by adding in things that God never intended. Whether it was a control issue or simply people blown away and not able to accept the simplicity of what Jesus had done, the church was already adding a lot of “extras” to what Jesus taught about living for Him.

It reminded me of coming to the faith myself later in life. For many years, I felt as if I couldn’t even consider being a Christian because of my past–and honestly, my present. That God not only couldn’t love me but that He was ashamed of even having made me.

The faith seemed so complicated to me then. There were so many rules. So many expectations. So many things that Christians had to be that I clearly could never be. So many . . . complications.

I tried to sift through it all for years. I mean, years. I can’t tell you how many Bibles I attempted to read, or televangelists I tried to understand. I even tried writing letters to pastors to ask for help in understanding. None of them ever answered me. Not one. It just led me to believe that either they agreed that I wasn’t acceptable in their faith, or that it was so complicated it was impossible for anyone to be accepted.

When I finally did come to the faith at the age of 30, I’d already spent months investigating it. To be honest, I had a bone to pick with Christianity, and two women at work became the target of my questioning. I was determined to show them that the religion they blindly followed was seriously flawed.

Turns out, I discovered that Jesus was real.

But I have to tell you, second to the profound realization that Jesus was what I’d been missing my entire life, was the devastating discovery that Christianity was never meant to be complicated at all.

The faith I’d tried to understand my entire life, the faith that could have certainly helped me through a difficult childhood, the faith that would have made a difference in my struggling marriage, was very simple in God’s eyes. It was others who had complicated it to the point of keeping me on the outside looking in and feeling like I wasn’t capable of being who God wanted.

During a recent sermon, I listened as the pastor boiled it down to this:

Jesus + Nothing
No matter how complicated we make it, no matter how much of our opinion we add, it can literally be boiled down to one word: Jesus. Click To Tweet

Jesus died to cover all of the things in our lives that keep us from a relationship with God. When we accept Him and choose to be led by Him, we are brought into His family. He took all that was complicated in the past and basically crushed it on the cross so that through Him, we all could have life with Him in it.

That’s it.

Notice there’s no mention of making up for past mistakes. Or being measured against one another to see which of us are deserving and which are not. Notice there are no allowances for those who work harder at being good Christians against those who continually make mistakes. There are not even allowances for those who sit in church for a lifetime versus those who never enter the doorway of a church.

It’s Jesus. And. Nothing. More

I’m over overcomplicating it, friends. Let’s keep it simple, shall we? Let’s show others who are desperately searching for it that it’s within their reach. That they are worthy. And that they too can experience life with Jesus despite anything—and everything—they’ve heard otherwise.

Reflection Questions

What have you inadvertently added to your relationship with Jesus that keeps you from growing closer to Him?

If you had to explain Christianity in one sentence to someone who didn’t understand it, what would you say?

Prayer

Father, we make it so hard on ourselves and others when really, what you ask of us is very simple. Help us to push past what the world has added onto your Word, and focus on You instead. You and nothing else. Guide us to be more like You. More accepting. More gracious. More tolerant. More forgiving. And to never look at another and categorize them in such a way that somehow removes them from You. Lord, we thank you for loving us despite our mistakes. Lead us to invite those you set before us. In the gracious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

4 thoughts on “I’m Over Overcomplicating It

Jodie

One sentence, Laura? Goodness. You’ve challenged me. Can I have a “run on” sentence? My husband says often, “the Bible says to believe, just believe in Jesus. Nothing more.” This comes up when we begin talking about how over complicated we make it sometime. I’m so thankful Jesus is patient with us. And I’m so thankful to call you sister, because of Jesus.

Reply

    Laura Adams

    Jodie, I’m glad it made you think. From the outside, Christianity can look very very complicated and confusing. It’s really so simple. Thankful to know others see how we complicate it too.
    xo,
    Laura

    Reply

Lysa

I am really struggling with my own story. I grew up in church and have gone all my life. I accepted Christ at a young age but doubted the memory… finally in college came to a point where I accepted that I knew what I believed… that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners… including ME. That I had asked him to be my Savior and that I could trust that He does what he says… I did not need to keep doubting.
I’ve been involved in ministry my entire adult life but over time and because of circumstances have become very discouraged and can’t seem to turn that around.. I just feel empty and dead inside. My faith is going nowhere and I’m very tired of the lack of feeling anything. I read the word and listen to preaching but it is like it just doesn’t register.
I was recently encouraged by the book One thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp… and realize I have so much to be thankful for. This has been a lifesaver in these crazy days. But what it keeps coming back to for me is the age old doubts and fears… I know a lot about Jesus but do I KNOW Jesus? I am only just touching the top of the iceberg here I know but it’s a start.
I know that most will pick up on the depression thread in this comment… and recommend counseling… I do not have that option where I am.
I found this group and opportunity to present some questions I’m having.
Anybody out there have some thoughts?

Reply

    Laura

    Lysa,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I can tell that it’s difficult for you. I think your questions and struggles are more common than you know. Whether we grow up in the faith or. come to it later in life, we can struggle with how well we know Jesus and if it’s enough. For me, the thing that began to solidify it for me was when I started studying the Bible on a deeper level. I’m not talking about doing a prepared Bible study that someone else has written. I’m talking about having a question about faith that bothered me and then researching anything and everything about it in the Bible and through online resources until I felt like God was showing me answers. Those answers came in different ways. Through prayers and quiet time when I didn’t know what to say, through reading something in the Bible that really stood out to me, through my circumstances, and through other people he used to speak to me. I think everyone can benefit from this type of deep looking for answers and a deeper relationship with God. I pray He blesses you in your efforts. Xo, Laura

    Reply

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