This is one of the basic components of the vision we felt that God was giving us back in the spring of 1985. The Companions of the Cross were to embrace some kind of simple life-style. It was probably the part of the vision with which we were the least comfortable. We're still not sure exactly what the Lord means by it, but we have an unsettling sense that he will make it clear to us as we go along. It will be for us to live it out and to do it without compromise.
The call of the gospel is plain enough. Simplicity of life is expected of all real disciples of Jesus. I have long been uneasy with the so-called prosperity gospel, the teaching that, when we turn our lives over to the Lord, he will shower material blessings upon us. As much as I'd like to believe it, it just doesn't wash. Of course, I'm just as uneasy with the word on simplicity, but I simply can't deny the authentic ring that it has.
Jesus says of himself: "The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20) He was cautioning those who were getting ready to make the decision to become his disciples. He was telling them that it wasn't going to be easy, that there would be a cost involved, and that the cost was total. To become his followers would cost them everything. Jesus had no real home to call his own, had no income, no insurance policies, nothing the world we live in would demand by way of elementary security. He was even buried in a borrowed grave.
He says: "Do not worry about your livelihood, what you are to eat or drink or use for clothing. Is not your life more than food? Is not the body more valuable than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap; they gather nothing into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they? Which of you by worrying can add a moment to his life-span? As for clothes, why be concerned? Learn a lesson from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work; they do not spin. Yet, I assure you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was arrayed like one of thee. If God can clothe in such splendour the grass of the field, which blooms today and is thrown on the fire tomorrow, will he not provide much more for you?" (Matthew 6:25-30) Does it sound as though Jesus wants his followers to live uncomplicated lives, lives unencumbered by a concern for the goods of this world and characterized by a very total trust in God?
He asks, too, a very pointed question: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own immortal soul?" (Mark 8:36) The answer to the question is 'zero'.
"It profits us nothing to 'make it' in this world if eternal life should slip from our grasp. Jesus is telling us to keep it simple."