Need to simplify your life? | Third Space

Need to simplify your life?

Is your life too busy & complicated? How do I return to simplicity?
Tue 26 May 2015

In this blog, I’d like to have a go at talking about simplicity. Let’s discuss simplicity in 3 areas of life: food, phones and relating with government; the virtue of simplicity in 2 popular theories; and how Jesus simplifies life.

Simplicity with Food, Phones and Government

One of the reasons I like Chinese restaurants is that you can order so many different things - there are a million things on the menu! How do you want your chicken - braised, steamed, stir-fried or deep fried?; Shandong or Szechuan style? There is such variety on a Chinese menu! On the other end of the spectrum there are food places that just offer one thing. One of my favourites is Hong Ha’s bread shop in Mascot. It sells one main product: delicious Vietnamese baguettes (banh mi). And it is simply good: crispy bread, meat, spring onions, shredded carrot, soy sauce - simple ingredients that combine to make something yum! Or there’s the Malaysian Chinese shop on Hunter St in Sydney. It is known for one dish: their chicken laksa - vermicelli, shredded chicken, and delicious red spicy soup. Then there’s the most simple of meals: bread and butter. Give me a crispy bread roll and hot butter - simply delicious.
Or let’s get even simpler: a banana, my favourite is the lady finger variety. Peel off the thin skin then enjoy!

My friend recently gave me his old smartphone to replace my even older Nokia 3210. During my first week of endless beeping from the smartphone to let me know of the latest Whatsapp and Gmail messages, I experienced withdrawal symptoms. Give me back my Nokia 3210! I simply just want to 1) know the time 2) make calls and 3) SMS. My simple Nokia did all this for me and it didn’t greedily suck up all the battery juice to do it. It’s been 3 weeks now and while enjoying some benefits of the smartphone, I’m still wondering if simpler is better?

Discussions between the NSW State government, local government and citizens continue around the issue of amalgamating councils. The argument is that economies of scale can be achieved by amalgamating. Government services are also changing with the closure of Medicare offices in King St, Town Hall and Wynyard, replaced by myGov in Martin Place. At this myGov shopfront not only are there Medicare services but also Centrelink and ATO services. Besides saving money, one of the aims of all these changes in government is making things more simple. Whether they succeed is another thing!

Theories of Simplicity

Two theories of simplicity include Ockham’s Razor and the KISS principle.

Ockham’s Razor

I like Ockham’s Razor, the idea that “other things being equal...simpler explanations are generally better than more complex ones.” Let me give you an example. This morning while changing in the office showers I realised I’d lost the cufflinks I’d put into my trouser pockets. I also remembered that my right trouser pocket has holes. How did I lose them? Perhaps someone sneaked into the bathroom and stole them while I was showering! Ockham's Razor tells me that the simpler and more likely explanation is that I’d put them in my right trouser pocket and they dropped through my holey pocket. With this in mind I searched the bathroom floor, finding one there and then while putting my shoes on found another in there!

KISS Principle

KISS is an acronym for "Keep it simple, stupid". It was a reportedly coined by the engineer Kelly Johnson (1910–1990) and was a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

Jesus Simplifies Life

I want to consider how following Jesus simplifies life when it comes to choosing food, communication and relating to government!

In Luke 12:29:

Jesus says, “Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.”

Critiquing perhaps our current foodie culture, Jesus continues in Luke 12:30:

Jesus says, “For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.”

Food, a gift of God, as enjoyable as it is, is only food - yummy stuff to keep us going but not worth running after. What is worth chasing?

In Luke 12:31:

Jesus says, “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Ever pore over a menu and stress over what to order? “What if I get this? What if I get that? Let me look at what the people on the other table have and maybe I’ll order that?” Having looked over the menu several times, with your tummy in a knot, you still don’t know what to order when the waiter comes round! As ridiculous as it sounds, Jesus simplifies this unimportant aspect of life. What’s the purpose of the meal? It’s just to feed me. Whether I order the Shandong chicken or Szechuan chicken is unimportant. It will come through one opening in my body and exit another quite soon. It’s not worth stressing over. What’s more important? The person on the other side of the table I’m eating with. Where does this person stand with God? What is their eternal destiny? How can I be a good friend to them? Order the first thing that catches your fancy, praise God for it, don’t keep changing your mind if you can help it, and concentrate on what’s important. Jesus simplifies food ordering!

Should I keep using my newly acquired smartphone or go back to the 12+ year old Nokia? James 2:12 tells me to “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom”. For me,
what’s the phone for? It’s a tool for me to communicate with others. The attitude with which I talk with people and message people that’s the important thing. The phone is not for me to curse others made in God’s image, gossip, slander and bad mouth others. Rather it’s a tool for me to communicate truth to other people. It’s a tool for me to love others not tear them down.


“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Romans 13:1

How does Jesus simplify life when it comes to government for me as a citizen? Let me share two examples. Firstly obeying speed limits. You know you’re probably breaking the law when you find yourself habitually slowing down before speed cameras and speeding up immediately afterwards. If you drive a route frequently enough you can even get into a nice pattern. You know you may have been breaking the law when you find yourself scared having just passed a hidden police vehicle with a police officer pointing a speed camera in your direction. How much simpler it is to keep under the limit (while enjoying an audio book for me; perhaps 95.3 Smooth FM for you?) indifferent to the fixed speed cameras able to go at constant speed and whizzing by any hidden police officers without even needing to check your speedometer confident you’re OK?

Similarly, you can apply this to things like receiving government benefits and paying taxes. How much simpler to follow Jesus and obey the government rather than weave, dodge, hide and live in fear of getting caught out.

Sure, there may be complexities, but how good is it that in following Jesus, in many ways, it simplifies life, and for the better.

Come along to my Forum talks in June 2015 to hear more about how Jesus simplifies life.