One of the blogs I follow avidly is Think Christian. A recent article by a guest blogger who incidentally is living in an intentional Christian community in Amsterdam’s red-light district, got me thinking.
The article is titled, ‘Can living simply become its own sort of idolatry?’. The author grew up in what Western society would call ‘poverty’. It is the same level of living I grew up in and in many ways when done intentionally, as opposed to out of necessity, it can be very freeing. The author talks about the traveling they were able to do and the way in which the low cost used goods they acquired over the years seemed ‘borrowed’ rather than owned. It is a feeling I can relate with and which I feel towards everything I own apart from my ‘data’. There’s a sense in which all that we own is truly only borrowed, and over the course of time we trade/barter/sell them in exchange for other items of value. In time we give them all up whether voluntarily or involuntarily as we cross the threshold of death and pass through the gates of eternity.
Anyway, the main point of the article was not so much these musings, but rather the idea that simple living in and of itself can become a form of idolatry. Anything that takes the place of God as our basis for identity and raison d’etre (to borrow from the French), is an idol.
I hadn’t considered this possibility and thoughtfully examined my heart. Jesus and his disciples lived simple lives, yet that was far from their life focus. And as a Christian and a follower of the teachings of Jesus, I want to live simply, yet allow my life focus to be passionate for Christ, not idolizing or idealizing a lifestyle.
The article closes with these words:
Furthermore, a love of cheap can get in the way of understanding and living out the extravagance of God. Being too cheap means that I can spoil the joy of others by not going out or in denying giving to others. Certainly God wants us to use the resources He gives us wisely, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of honoring others and delighting in the good gifts He has given us.
I guess that’s where ‘living well simply’ comes in. Rejoice in the extravagance and goodness and blessings God sends our way, but be wise stewards of the resources he has entrusted to us. Our stuff, and yes even our very lives are loaned to us. They all have an expiration date. Live simple live well and by all means do LIVE passionately for God!