One of the many currents in our world at the moment is minimalism. This is not a “universal” mode of living by choice though, as many people in the world, especially the developing world, are minimalist as a result of economic disparities in the world. For people living in any number of developed economies, there is a trend to simplify and minimise a life that has become over burdened with consumerism and occupation with the acquiring of these objects and the storage of them.
How can this help us in a world like ours. Is there really a need? After all, we earned the money to have these things and should be able to keep them. Yes, true, and we are free to use our money as we see fit. In many countries we are at liberty to earn what we can and purchase at will. Is it always necessary…no. Is it that some of these products are simply pushed at us…yes. We are adults and need to make the right choices.
In an effort to reduce this accumulation and simply some of our already crowded lives and homes, there is a movement as mentioned called “minimalist” which seeks just that, to lighten the accumulated goods and reduce to a minimum the objects we have surrounding us. It is hoped thereby, that our lives become simplified in this reduced, slimmed-down version of our realities. But minimalism is not simply throwing away our possessions and thereby becoming better people in an instant. It may be that the objects are later replaced and we are back where we were because we found it too hard to do without those objects. Instead, minimalism is part of a greater idea working in ourselves that seeks to free us from what holds us back. This tie-down can be goods as mentioned but can also be people, places and ideas/beliefs.
How can we do this? It can be in any number of ways, but beginning perhaps with a list of essential items needed for living and working. After that a secondary list of what could be immediately removed. And the items that are not included in these two lists could then be analysed to see if they too could be slimmed to a minimum as well. The more items removed from this third group the closer to minimal we become. It all amounts to the essential and nothing more, so that we live in a personal world that doesn’t require material things to be fulfilled.
According to the “The Minimalist” blog: “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom… Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around.” So if we remove the materialist culture we will replace it with something since there are no vacuums in our lives. Materialism has often replaced God for many who had no faith or rejected God. But for the reverse, we can remove the god of materialism and replace it with God. The Son of God called us to let go of this world and its trappings for the purer world of the Kingdom of God. A kingdom not of this world of material objects and power to keep those objects as a horde for ourselves or our countries. “…life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” said Jesus (Luke 12, 14).
We were called to a life of sharing and doing without for the sake of others. We can pull down the barns and build newer, larger ones, but one day our souls must give an account (Luke 12, 14-21). We all have choices in our lives, we can live well, we can be and have success. And we can also reduce our needs and requirements to be minimalist for the sake of freedom. Freedom to live as the sons and daughters of God. Free for the Kingdom.