Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel
K.I.S.S. is an old acronym for “keep it simple, stupid,” purportedly originated by aircraft engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson. He was noted for demanding from his colleagues not only genius in innovative aircraft design, but also an extraordinary ability to so simplify their designs that the new aircraft could readily be repaired under battlefield conditions by an average aircraft mechanic with access to only a limited number of basic tools.
Albert Einstein agreed with the concept, but stated it not quite so memorably: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
For those of us who hope to win people to Christ, whether from the pulpit or through personal witnessing, being alert to the K.I.S.S. concept is essential. Too often we get so wound up in trying to convey our own words of wisdom to our people that we only confuse them. We need to learn to keep our message simple.
Religion can be complex; wars have been fought between devout Christians over differences in religious dogma. Arguing over our differences, defending our distinctives, seeking to persuade others that our preferred Christian denomination is superior to others: these things cannot be allowed to interfere with the communication of the simple and straightforward words Jesus used in explaining to Nicodemus the way of salvation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18 NIV).
Paul was equally clear when he wrote, that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:9-13 NIV).
Children are often taught the ABCs of salvation: Ask God for forgiveness of sin; Believe in Jesus, God’s Son, as your Savior from sin; Confess him as Lord and master of your life. Those steps may not be easy for a person to take, but they are certainly clear and straightforward.
Jesus has named us his ambassadors, his representatives on earth. He has been gracious to us in giving opportunities to study and understand his Word, so that we in turn might be able to point others to him. He has given us gifts and talents and expects us to use them to the honor and glory of God. He expects that we will be straightforward in telling others about the salvation provided in him; he expects that as teachers our message will be intelligible, appropriate to our audience, designed to cause our listeners to praise and honor him, not ourselves, our talents, our intelligence or our own abilities.
Religion is complex. The way to salvation is simple, and should not be obscured by the eloquence of the speaker or by the speaker’s unacknowledged need to make people admire the speaker’s great spiritual insights. The way to salvation is simple, but should not be made to appear so simple that it can accept shortcuts, accommodations that would bypass the fact that salvation was secured for us through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.
As messengers of Christ, we must be constantly on the alert, evaluating and re-evaluating our verbal communications, both formal and informal. We need always to ask ourselves: “Will the message I share today be a true, clear, concise declaration of the Word of God? Will it help others to know him better? When people leave this place, will it be with words of praise for God, not for the preacher?”
K.I.S.S., and tell.