More and more people today are embracing a minimalist lifestyle as a rejection of materialism, but over 2000 years ago Jesus Christ could be viewed as one of the earliest and ultimate to teach this philosophy.
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”
– Ecclesiastes 1:9
The idea of minimalism is nothing new. However, many people are unaware of how often this concept is advocated for in the Bible. The teaching of minimalism has been a part of Christianity for more than 2000 years.
In our modern time, in the United States, the beginnings of minimalism started to take place in the 1960s, an era of massive change across all society.
However, slogans like “greed is good” and “who dies with the most toys wins” in the 1980s set off a new trend of materialism, with a focus on possessions that saw Americans moving into huge houses nicknamed McMansions.
But the Millennial generation, faced with soaring housing costs and an awareness of how materialism was harming the planet, pushed back, creating a revived minimalist movement.
The focus switched from learning how to live with less and focused more on quality of life and purpose rather than wealth and things.
“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.”
– Luke 12:33
We really only need a few basic things to survive: Food, water, shelter, and clothing. And to a further extent, access to healthcare when we are ill. These are needs, but the problem is – we often get caught up in wants.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
–1 Timothy 6:7-8
Jesus not only lived a minimalist lifestyle himself but demanded that his disciples did the same.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'”
they were encouraged to deny themselves the material pleasures and monetary profit of life.
This is why certain Christian priests to this day take vows of poverty, which means to live simply and forgo certain privileges, Our Sunday Visitor reports.
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”
– Hebrews 13:5
In the above passage, the apostle Paul is referring to Jesus as the “he” of the subject and reiterating Christ’s teachings of a minimalist lifestyle.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
–1 Timothy 6:10
The pursuit of wealth and material goods can bring its own set of problems. They require a certain amount of responsibility. In some ways, your possessions can own you. You also have to fear theft or being taken advantage of. Further, the pursuit of wealth and materialism can lead some people down dark roads.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
–1 Timothy 6:9