The Plain Testimony

A Final Quotations from a Friend of today, about plainness.

Reprinted from The Call


There are so many angles from which we can look at the whole plain thing - our speech, our dress, how we deal with people in business, or a plain and simple lifestyle.  All these things connect together when the Lord calls us to give up all earthly attachments and submit our lives - our whole lives - to him.  Plainness arises because, in his Spirit, we see the world, other people and ourselves for what they “really” are.  Plainness is a call to reality.  The biggest cheese in the corporation will command considerable fear and respect compared to the old woman who cleans the toilets, but somehow people forget that both will eventually pass from this life in the flesh and will have to give an account of themselves before God.  Bowing and scraping to our “higher up” comes from a deluded mind.

Inequality is often expressed through clothing.  We even use terms like “blue collar” and “white collar” to distinguish between classes.  It once occurred to me when I was amongst a group of plain Quakers (no collars) that you couldn’t tell who amongst them was uneducated or educated, or any idea about the social status.  Not only was it impossible to tell, no one was remotely interested.  More than that it was a witness to those who are still stuck in that mindset - a reminder to those who respect status, an encouragement to those who are seeking a world where all are equal in God’s eyes by showing them it is (in God’s strength) a real possibility.

As dangerous as respect of people, is the “respect” we have for “things.”  As one American bumper sticker puts it, “The best things in life are not things.”  So to be plain in how we use our money, buying only what is useful and necessary, avoiding unnecessary adornment, serves to draw us off our attachment to those things that will eventually pass away, and guide us back to the eternal spirit of God.

If there is one useful thing I have learnt (the hard way), it is the uselessness of just putting oneself into a “plain regime.”  This rapidly becomes a self-willed world of empty works.  The authentic plain life is not so much an emptying out of worldliness, but a filling up with Christ’s Spirit, which in turn gives us something so enriching and beautiful that the things of the world, the colorful adornments and affectations of the wealthy pale in comparison.

- Simon Watson



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