THE #1 CHRISTIAN MOTIVE FOR PURSUING MINIMALISM
I’m not a compulsive site-stats watcher, but the times I did watch my stats, I noticed something in particular: The most popular posts on my blog, without failure, are the ones that feature the Christian faith. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… minimalism and Christianity tie together beautifully. Yet for one reason or the other there aren’t very many websites that shine a light on minimalism from a Christian perspective.
At first, I was afraid I’d put people off by mentioning my beliefs so much. (Afraid as in “I bet traffic will decline now…but oh well”, not as in “what will they think of me? Maybe I shouldn’t post this after all..”) However, I’m absolutely thrilled to see quite the opposite. There are a lot of people interested in Christianity and minimalism after all! Or maybe there are just many Christians who would want to pursue a minimalist lifestyle without the obligatory Buddha-quotes, I don’t know.
Anyhow, without further ado, I present to you the absolute #1 Christian motive for pursuing minimalism. (And why I think it’s a duty for every Christian to do so!)
“We are in this world, but not of it”
Now, the Bible mentions this a couple of times in different perspectives:
John 15: “As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you”
John 17: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
Romans 12: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
You can see that in the first example, it is said that Christians are more or less aliens. The ‘people of the world’ don’t like them and their ways. (But that’s ok.) The second example says that Christians are people living in this world, but God will eventually sanctify them. (Not because they’re better than anyone else, but because God lends them mercy.) The third example says that Christians live in this world, but shouldn’t adapt to the ways of their society (because we are to have our minds renewed).
They’re three short verses, and as much as I hate to highlight single verses from chapters of text, I think they all speak for themselves. Christians are here only temporarily, as if they were on a vacation. Our real home isn’t on earth. If we’re lucky, we might be given some 80 years before we return ‘back home’. So what will we do with our time?
Consumerism doesn't suit a Christian
One thing is for sure and that is that the consumerist lifestyle does not fit in here. I don't care how many bogus evangelical movements have come from the USA... preaching about prosperity, wealth and mixing it in with the gospel. It is not and will never be the gospel. Love of money has no place in Christianity, not even when we make it sound like "blessings or anointments".
We have to keep in mind that we’re here only for a little while (because compared to eternity, even 80 years count as a little while!). How foolish would we be if we spend our time looking for or hunting after material things? Best of all, the stuff we find so ‘important’ now, won’t even matter when we reach the end of our stay. We can’t take it with us, and even if we could – I’m sure they wouldn’t be of any use. It’s not for nothing the Bible urges us to “not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven (for where your treasure is, your heart will be also) “
The jealous traveler
Picture yourself as a traveler. Just imagine you’re going on holiday. You’re at the airport and notice the other people that are about to board the same plane as you. Now, take a look at their luggage. There’s a backpacker, a gentleman carrying a laptop-bag and there’s a guy hauling the biggest suitcase you’ve ever seen. What do you think? Are you envious of one of them? I’d dare to say you wouldn’t like to be in the last guy’s shoes… Who would want to carry the burden of a 60 pound suitcase around for his entire holiday? Not me, that’s for sure. While most of us would agree that taking a heavy suitcase with you on holiday isn’t an ideal situation, it’s exactly what we do in ‘real life’.
We hunt after more, more and even more material possessions, which we carry around with us for our entire, 80-year holiday. And then… they are rendered useless after all. To top it all off, we’re often jealous of the person who has an even bigger burden to carry. We want just as much stuff as the Joneses, and just a little bit more!
Not only physical stuff counts
Then, there are a group of people who just really, really dislike physical things. Maybe they really can’t stand them, or maybe they have another way to spend all their money and time. Traveling the world, eating at fancy restaurants – really, there are a million and one ways to blow a lot of money, even if you aren’t spending it on physical stuff. (Obviously, I’m not talking about a splurge here and there, but to consistently spend all your money on these things).
As a Christian, it should be easier to keep things in perspective. We are in this world, not of it – remember? We’re only here a short time, so let’s not make ourselves too comfortable. Why build a castle if you’re only going to stay in a place for two weeks? A tent will do, right? How about 80 years… will you need a castle then, or will a simple dwelling do? If we realize that there is no security in providing for ourselves in this ‘holiday’ on earth, it’ll be much easier not to be so preoccupied with it.
If you can’t take any material things with you after your ‘holiday’, but you might take along some souls, where do your investments go? Do you spend your savings on a boat, a cruise or a large house – or do you choose to invest in world evangelism, schooling in developing nations or just supporting a local church? Aaron from the ‘Greenimalist’ recently wrote a post about Bibilical social responsibility. I loved and encourage you to read it for yourself! Aaron says: “If we know that certain things are made under terrible conditions, we can’t condone ourselves to
purchase them – it’s our responsibility to think about our fellow human beings.”
We are in this world, but not of it. We don’t need all the comforts that the world can bring. We don’t need its luxuries, its habits not its ways. We’ll enjoy our stay for as long as it may last, but we’ll be ever so happy to return to our real home in due time!