Finding Harmony in a Complex World
“Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience. We need to be lighthearted in what we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride. Our work is jubilant, carefree, merry. Utter abandonment to God is done freely and with celebration. And so I urge you to enjoy this ministry of self-surrender. Don’t push too hard. Hold this work lightly, joyfully.”
Richard Foster is my favourite Christian writer and Celebration of Discipline is my favourite Christian book. Because Freedom of Simplicity is an expansion of the discipline of simplicity found in Celebration of Discipline, much of the praise I have for this book has been discussed in the reviews of Celebration of Discipline and Streams of Living Water. What remains will thus be shorter.
Was Freedom of Simplicity worth writing? Yes and no. As with all Foster, the more that he writes, the more genuinely life-renovating proverbs one reads; he gathers swathes of insight from an abundance of denominational domains. In fact, this book may well have been the hardest book thus far for me to isolate just one representative and captivating quote from. But I cannot shake the (probably) unjustified niggle that this book was not necessary in the light of the more streamlined chapter found in Celebration of Discipline.
On any account, a weaker book from Foster is an objectively strong book nonetheless. Hyper-aware of the cliff-edges either side of Pharisaism and a lack of discipline, he navigates the narrow path sure-footed. He gloriously confronts the heart, introducing the alluringly simple life comprehensively. How the follower of Jesus is to use her money is, of course, explicated, but more ignored zones like plainness of speech, focused desire, single-minded social-justice and world renewal also have their place in the book. Throughout, Foster sagely warns again and again of the danger of navigating the narrow path incorrectly, and finishes with a wealth of application-conviction fusing. It is excellent and has the potential to change one’s life. But the niggle will not go away.