A devout follower falls to Jesus’s knees and asks what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus’s answer has perplexed the average Christian since the words were spoken:
“You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Mt. 19:21
If you remember, this same devout man who had just bruised his knees begging Jesus for an answer walked away visibly upset because “he had many possessions.” (see Mt. 19:22).
Honestly, I’ve heard this passage explained away during homilies more times than I can count. No priest is going to say “Jesus meant exactly what he said. I want you to go sell all of your possessions once Mass is over so you can be true followers of God.” Even priests own things.
Before embracing minimalism I too had a hard time with this response. Give away my possessions? ALL of them? I mean, this is my STUFF! What am I supposed to do without my stuff?
But here’s the thing: I think Jesus wanted us to be minimalists in the simplest sense and materialists in the true sense: owning what we need but keeping those things in proper prospective and creating a life that cares about the material matters of the world: the poor, our relationships, adding value to the world around us.
Minimalism has created DISTANCE between me and my stuff. No longer does any one item possess a place in my heart, a place where Jesus ought to be. My stuff is for enjoyment, for entertainment, for self-betterment, for utility, for memories, but it is still just stuff. If I were to lose all of my possessions tomorrow I could recover from that more quickly now than in the past.
So now, if Jesus came to me and demanded a literal interpretation of this command, I would say “okay,” rent a U-Haul and load it all up for donation. Would I be sad about my few sentimental possessions? Sure. But even those are in the correct order now.
My suggestion: if this Bible verse makes you uncomfortable, leaving you making excuses for why He didn’t mean for us to take Him literally, take a moment and check out the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things or anything written by Joshua Becker. You’ll see that minimalism and faith actually compliment each other very well and help you spend more time with Him.
I’m curious: Have you explored minimalism? Has it changed your walk with God in any way?
Until next time,