What often gets taught first is a lot of secondary stuff. How Christians should act, where they should go on Sundays, and a long list of do's and don'ts. Many of these things are important, but they aren't more important that what Jesus himself commanded. Living out daily what Christ taught defines those who claim to be his followers.
Jesus himself stated that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. The second is similar to the first: to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we add the commands in the Great Commission to those in the Great Commandment we get:
It is only when we obey God's laws that we can be quite sure that we really know Him. The man who claims to know God but does not obey His laws is not only a liar, he lives in self-delusion. In practice, the more a man learns to obey God's laws,the more truly and fully does he express his love for Him. Obedience is the test of whether we really live "in God" or not. The life of a man who professes to be living in God must bear the stamp of Christ. (I John 2:3-6 JBP)
Pretty simple. I can think of no better starting place to work with new believers than with these three commandments. If you get these right, everything else falls into place. There is enough in these six words to keep us busy with a lifetime of learning and ministry.
But why don't we focus on these essentials? What distracts us from living out these three? Why do we so easily lose our focus and get off on so many other secondary matters?
I believe for all our talk about simplicity, we continue to live as if "more is more" rather than "less is more." If what we do is too simple, we will look dumb. So we complicate the simple and hope everyone will see how smart we are by adding on all kinds of extras and non-essentials. Does this remind anyone of the Pharisees?
Simple in no way means "easy to accomplish," but it does mean uncomplicated. We have complicated that which was meant to be simple to the point that few truly practice in their daily lives those things Jesus commanded.
I recently posted Roy McClung's How to explain simple/organic church in 2-minutes on a napkin. In this short video Roy does a great job illustrating how we have taken something quite simple and morphed it into something quite different than originally intended.
Neil Cole expresses it this way,
"Simple is transferable; complex breaks down...Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. If the process is complex, it will break down early in the trasference to the next generation of disciples. The more complex the process, the greater the giftedness needed to keep it going. The simpler the process, the more available it is to the broader Christian populace."I vote for getting back to basics. Simplify the process. Teach the Great Commandment and the Great Commission until our disciples are obeying these commands. If we aren't even keeping the basic ABC's of the Christian faith, how dare we attempt to pontificate on the QRS's?