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Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Minimalism

In Faith, Personal Development, Philanthropy on June 17, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Recently, as in the past two months, I’ve really been on what I would call a zen minimalism kick. Zen as in balance. When I began thinking about the packing I would have to do at the end of the school year, I began to wonder if I could take everything back to Puyallup in two trips. I’m not sure if I could, mainly because I lack containers for most of the things I have, and I just stuff my car to the brim. I’ve come to the conclusion that at this point in my life I should be able to fit everything I own into my car.

Why my car? Well, mainly because if I can fit everything I own in one car trip, it greatly increases my range of freedom. No going back for more. No worries about what I’ve left behind. Everything I own, and truly need, is with me and nothing else. But alongside the things I truly need are a bunch of other things. Things that I don’t need, and really shouldn’t even have. Things like the extra printer I have, or my 30 t-shirts, or eight pairs of pants, or eight pairs of shoes, or my whole drawer for things I don’t know what to do with. If I don’t know what to do with it, why do I keep it?

While the Dr. Jekyll in me is dedicated to tearing through my consumerism and returning to a simpler lifestyle, my Mr. Hyde is crazy about gadgets. Specifically Apple gadgets. I’m a student, so it’s not really a question of ‘Do I need a laptop?’ but rather ‘Do I need a MacBook Pro when I MacBook would probably do just fine?’ Since I plan on not having cable when I move into my own place (eventually) I have decided that I will just buy shows from the iTunes store and get them that way. Now, it would be a lot easier and more convenient for me to buy an TV, but should I?

I know the answer to the question ‘Do I need it?’ is clearly no? But, as a Christian, are we called to own only that which we truly need? By purchasing an TV, or a MacBook Pro, or iPhone, or anything superfluous for that matter, instead of tithing, or giving that money to someone who truly needs it, am I disobeying Christ’s wishes for his followers?

Let’s see what the bible actually says about this kind of thing.

We all know the story of the rich man in Luke 18:

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'[b]”

21″All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Now, did Jesus tell him to sell everything he had because that is the answer that applies to all of mankind, or was it aimed specifically at the young man because he had a love of money? Does Christ expect everyone of us to live like monks? If so, then most Christians are failing to meet this expectation. How can a Christian live in the modern world if this is what Jesus expects of us?

Even if I were to give up everything I owned and gave the money to the poor, what does this mean about savings? Am I allowed to work and put some into a retirement account? If I did that wouldn’t sound like I was following what Jesus said in Luke 18.  Jesus said to sell everything. That means absolutely everything.

What do you think? Can a Christian live in a modern world with modern things and still be obeying what is written, or are we all expected to give up everything and follow Jesus? Do you know of any bible verses that really deal with this subject head on? Let me know in the comments!

Further reading: Check out this Ask the Readers post over at Zen Habits (My new favorite blog) about fitting everything you own in your car’s trunk. Be sure to check out all of Leo’s, as well as his contributers great posts at Zen Habits.