Minimalism and God
The millennial generation is redefining success and what it means to live a healthier and happier lifestyle. Over the last few years, there’s been a trend to live simply. It’s a new narrative about the freedom of becoming a minimalist.
Minimalism may appear to be a new concept, but like everything, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” It’s a catchy phrase for where we place our priorities and what we value most.
“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now. Ecclesiastes 1:9-11
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists) stated, “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”
I get what they are saying in terms of consumerism, but no matter how we choose to simplify our lives, a healthy lifestyle isn’t derived from how much or how little we own. The goal to be free from the trappings of our culture isn’t a guarantee from worry, stress, and life’s challenges.
The Word of God is the one tool and complete source that assists and assures us that we can experience freedom from the concerns of this world. “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there’s freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
The discovery of freedom from the trappings of this world is to understand that a full life is for those who believe “the fear of the Lord should be our treasure.” Isaiah 33:6
The result of fearing God is his promise for a worry-free life. When we fear God, we have the confidence to trust him with what we have and where we are in the present. “The Lord has said to me in the strongest terms … if you fear me, you fear nothing else.” Isaiah 8:11, 13.
It “doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves.” (The Minimalist)
I believe the person who is discontent in one part of their life will seldom discover contentment when their life is absent of God. If God isn’t the driving force behind the decisions we make, everything else is meaningless and what we attain is fleeting.
A point from The Minimalist I find troubling is that “By incorporating minimalism into our lives, we’ve finally been able to find lasting happiness—and that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it? We all want to be happy. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life.”
Sadly, these men didn’t discover happiness until they purged stuff out of their lives. If we seek meaning in life by what we own and do, or don’t, this kind of happiness will be short-lived. Peace becomes our reality by what we assign heavenward and that which has eternal value. Peace is not the absence of things, but the presence of God.
A.B. Simpson states that “The real secret of perfect rest is to be jealously, habitually occupied with Jesus."
The “Fear-of-God is life itself, a full life, and serene—no nasty surprises.“ Proverbs 19:23 MSG
A healthy lifestyle is one who knows that God is life itself (I John 1:2). “Real freedom,” as they describe it, isn’t freedom. Our quest for happiness in life comes from trusting God to guide our footsteps, which is always for our well-being. “Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.” Psalm 119:35
There are times we enter a room that has very little. It’s unwelcoming, cold, and lifeless. When God isn’t the driving force of what and how we do things, our hearts remain empty. The absence of God creates space for discontentment and loneliness and there’s a greater chance our souls are unfulfilled. God created us to be surrounded and filled with his love.
No matter what your reason is for becoming a minimalist of things, don’t forsake fearing God. Pursue God and develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In him is real freedom and you will experience life itself.
Take some time and evaluate what brings you the greatest joy in this life. At the end of the day, what dominated your conversations, your ambitions, your desires? Was it God or was he secondary to how you spent your day?
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus … Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Philippians 4:1-12