Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Ultimate Minimalist

To begin, I must be honest - I don't have much exposure to the minimalist style of thinking, but I have true admiration for the people living this out. What little I have learned thus far has led me to believe that Jesus is a stellar role model of minimalism.
When I started researching for this post, I was disappointed to discover that I didn't have much to go on. I found only a handful of blogs written with a similar topic. I'm not opposed to doing my own digging, by any means, but I have to admit: I was hoping for some training wheels. 
(This is bound to be rough. I haven't done much writing lately, and I hope you can stick with me through the rust. It is highly likely that I will ramble, or have no logical transitions between ideas...)
As I began considering this topic, the very first passage that came to mind was Matthew 19:21. 
Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." The background story is that a rich man came to Jesus, asking what he had to do to go to heaven. Jesus tells him this. The rich man left. He couldn't do it. He wouldn't let go. Jesus knew that the rich, young man loved his stuff more than the things of God.  (A tangent concept I gleaned here would be that if you choose to live with a limited number of possessions, but are doing it without a purpose to further the Kingdom of Christ, then why bother?)
The problem I found with using this as a strong example of a Biblical stance on minimalism is this: theoretically, a rich man could be or become an excellent minimalist. Because of that, I have to move on. Pursuing passages that discuss wealth are not what I'm looking for. This isn't about riches. It's about stuff. Or so I thought...
One of the few articles I did find regarding the Bible's take on minimalism had this to say: "Are you counting your possessions because you'd like to have insight in the number of things you own, or so you can brag about how little you own on your blog?"
This clicked for me. Pride. It's still a sin, no matter what the current culture has managed to label it. So it turns out, for some people, that getting rid of all your stuff only highlights your weakness. God may command you to get rid of all your belongings, but I promise it's not going to be so that your pride finds a new venue - it will be to humble you. It will be because He called you to do it. I'm certainly not saying that any individual leading a simple life is automatically on a special "list" God has of those He's going to use. But it does bring us here:
"Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes..." Luke 10:3-4a. Jesus spoke these words to his followers. Specifically, He spoke them to those who were sent to cities ahead of Him. His messengers. Just before that, "Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.'" (Luke 9:58) Christ Himself had no earthly possessions. He set the example. 
We know, because of Luke 12:15-21, that we can't take our stuff with us when we die. "Then He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.' And He told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him. 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'" (Emphasis added. Personal pronouns, much? Think this may perhaps be indicative of something?)

It all boils down to this: Who do you worship? Who do you depend on? 
I'm not telling you to go and live a certain way. Only you can decipher your calling. But if you do it without His guidance, your minimalist living still won't fill that hole in your heart. 

*All referenced verses come from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.