I don’t have to look far into my life to recognize that I have a long way to go before I am the person God desires me to be. It seems like every direction I turn, I uncover a new problem that I need to take care of. Most of these problems are pretty obvious: self-dependence, pride, anger, jealousy, apathy. The list could go, but I think you get the idea. I have a feeling that if you were honest you would agree with me. You know that there are things in your life that you need to work on as well. Perhaps many of the same struggles that you face are fairly common like mine are. But what if I told you there is a problem that has slipped under the radar for the most part in today’s Christianity? It’s called materialism. Google defines materialism this way: a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values. Americans, and even American Christians are addicted to stuff to the point that they elevate things above their spiritual well-being. They exchange “spiritual values” for…stuff.
A Growing Issue
This is not a new problem. As a nation, we have long desired to have as many things as possible. You’ve heard of the American dream, right? You’ve heard the phrase “Keeping up with the Jones’s”. Consider this quote that sums up the majority of Americans: “We buy things we don’t want with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like.” We are not exempt from this problem even though we are Christians. God’s people are no exception to elevating physical things over spiritual well-being. Let me be clear; I am not advocating living with nothing: There are things that are necessary to have, and there are things that you may like to have. The issue is not having stuff-the issue is when you love stuff.
An Unexpected Solution
A few months ago my wife started decluttering our house. She was getting rid of stuff that we didn’t use or didn’t want (but had managed to keep), and even some stuff that I wanted! I wondered why she was doing this, so she told me she was starting to be a minimalist. I’ll be honest; I didn’t love the idea. I like stuff. But when I found out why she was getting rid of our beloved possessions, I had to take a step back and seriously reconsider my lifestyle.
The main idea that Crystal has started to integrate is called minimalism, but can be summed up in this mantra: “Use things; love people.” That slapped me in the face, metaphorically speaking of course. The whole reason my wife (and, eventually, I) started getting rid of stuff was because we didn’t want our life to be run by things. We didn’t want to keep wasting our money on stuff, when we could be investing in people. Whether that be investing in our marriage by getting away for a few days, or helping out some friends of ours, we wanted to love people, not things.
While there are other ideas behind minimalism, the basic idea is this: love people, use things. Many people understand this principle of minimalism; but the majority may not recognize that this principle is found in the Bible. Colossians 3:2 says this: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
The sixth chapter of Matthew (Verse 21) shows this, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” According to one website, Americans spent $10.7 trillion on shopping! Their heart is where their money is. Compare that to this stat: in 2015, Americans only spent about $370 billion on charitable giving. Let me simplify this, for every $30 spent on shopping, Americans charitably give $1. Why do I give all these numbers? To show you that Americans’ heart is in stuff. The stats for a Christian would be a little different, but not much. Christians often elevate stuff over spirituality.
Jesus said that all the law hangs on two commandments: Love God with everything and love your neighbor as yourself. This is Christianity in a nutshell: Love God; love people. Thus, Christians have a choice to make. Do you love people, or do you love stuff? Materialism says you love things, minimalism says you love people. Friend, you have a choice. You can continue to elevate material possessions in your life, or you can invest in people and love them the way that God wants you too. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” How you spend your money is a reflection of what you love. So, do you love stuff or people? Do you live a minimalist Christianity? Let me reiterate. I’m not suggesting for every person who reads this article to throw away all their stuff. I do want us to realize that material possessions have no bearing on eternity. However, investing in people makes an eternal impact.
Spending money on missions is far more beneficial than buying a new car to replace your adequate vehicle that doesn’t need to be traded in. Spending time with a new believer in an effort to disciple him shows a love that ordering a fourth pair of brand new Nike’s for yourself does not. Volunteering in your community exhibits minimalist Christianity unlike watching an entire season of your favorite show on Netflix. What I am getting at is that employing a minimalist attitude in your Christianity will perhaps cause you to live differently. Your Amazon purchase history may not be as long, and your T.V. may not get used for a little while, but you can eternally impact someone. Choose to be a Minimalist Christian.