Minimalization for Maximum Mission

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“The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” Elise Boulding

Even from an early age, the words of Jesus found in the Gospels have resonated so deeply in my mind and heart. I’ve always seen Jesus, not as a blue-eyed, pale-skinned, white and tidy figure, but an olive-skinned, dusty-footed rabbi: joyful, passionate, and driven, as He took the Kingdom of God wherever He went. So close to my heart are some words from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25-34).

Of course, Jesus spoke at other times about living lightly and not being tethered down by material possessions. From His interaction with the rich, young ruler (Mark 10:17-27), to punchlines such as “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul,” (Matt 16:26-27) Jesus also reminded people (especially, those who followed Him) to live in the freedom of simplicity.

I’ve always tended toward simplicity. From working cross-culturally (bouncing around, living out of my hiking backpack) to moving across the nation with nothing but the belongings that could fit in my car, I’ve always preferred minimalism. One thing that I’ve learned, however, are the struggles of doing that with family in tow. Lately, however, I’ve been passionate at figuring out what minimalism looks like for me and my family, and one of the ways I’ve done this is going through a course put on by author Joshua Becker (becomingminimalist.com), called “Uncluttered.” It’s been helpful in this season to have a structured, week-by-week process to work through, with exercises and stories of the journeys that others have taken to live more minimalistically. One of the exercises of this course is putting words the answer to the question: “Why move toward minimalism?” For me, it comes back to my raw fascination with Jesus and the Kingdom of the Heavens. My why is:

  • I want to live in a way that is lightweight and low maintenance so that I can experience deeper freedom: freedom from the anxiety that seems to attach itself so easily to material possessions and the fears of society (i.e. fear of missing out, not having enough, etc.).
  • I want more time to spend with my family, and experiencing life together; and I want more time to contemplatively live out my relationship with God.
  • I want to be more generous in loving and helping others with my time and resources.
  • I want my children to experience the joy and freedom of simplicity.

The process of un-cluttering is doing good for my soul.

 

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Joel