This post about living simply was written by our good friend Derek. The way he lives his life inspires and encourages us to take steps toward simplifying and living more relationally. In a time when Christian leaders are building multi-million dollar, 16,000 square-foot mansions, Derek’s words + actions point to Jesus and spur us on to living a Kingdom life. His thoughts show us that size doesn’t equal favor in the Kingdom of God.
People say money drives everything. But maybe more accurately, it’s our massive addiction to stuff that drives everything.
In the 1950s, the average home size was 983 square feet.
In 2007, the average home size was 2,349 square feet.
And average family sizes have dwindled.
Advertising and marketing is an extremely lucrative industry. We’ve been convinced that we need things to fit in — things that people in the ’50s never dreamed of. Stuff is more accessible than it ever has been. Smart phones and laptops make it impossible not to know the latest fashions, electronics, and trends. The accumulation of toys, furniture, appliances, electronics, vehicles, etc… has grown substantially in the last 50 years.
Anyway, I don’t really want to convince you that society is addicted to the accumulation of stuff. I’d rather point to Jesus and share my experience in recognizing and managing our addictions to stuff in my own family.
As I think about the life of Jesus, I realize that while he didn’t have access to an iPhone, he must’ve lived simply. He traveled, on foot, for much of his life from 30 to his crucifixion at 33. He worked as a carpenter and lived to carry out his passion with the rest of his time. He probably carried a change of clothes and maybe a few carpentry tools. He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor. He basically regarded material things as not having much value. I have to believe that if Jesus were alive today, he’d live very much the same way.
About 3 years ago, my wife and I moved into a house. As recent college grads, we did what everyone else does — worked big boy and big girl jobs. Being a math teacher, I immediately became alarmed with the amount of money it took for us to meet our monthly budget. I began to ask myself how we’d ever have kids when we had very little extra money. So, we started identifying ways that we could trim. And, I can happily say that 3 years and 2 kids later, we’re living on less than we did then.
What’s the difference?
The difference for us: We’re using a more Kingdom-minded approach to our home. Remember how I said that Jesus lived to carry out his passion? It looks different for everyone, but for us, it has involved adopting our two kids and building relationships with our neighbors/college community.
- We adopted our two kids from Uganda about a year ago. This took a lot of financial sacrifice and a whole lot of leaning on others for support. But, this is one of our passions and God doesn’t give us passions not to have us follow them. (That would just be mean, right?)
- Secondly, our front door may as well be a revolving door. Our kids have their neighbor friends over a lot and we host a weekly meal for college students and young adults in our area. We also have random people over during the week and a college student lives in our basement. To do this, we had to simplify our space in our house (to accommodate/have a college student live with us) and simplify our budget (to afford our relationally driven life-style).
While I’m not saying that you should adopt a child (although you should), I do think God gives us all unique passions and abilities. I also believe the biggest hindrances to using those passions and abilities is societal pressure. Pressure to have everything that the media and world tell us we need to have.
Your stuff is a means to accomplishing Kingdom results. (I know the Jones’ have a 2013 Escalade, but maybe you could settle for a 2005 minivan and afford to get involved with something you’re passionate about.)
Hebrews 12:1 says “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Our stuff can be a hindrance. Once we figure out which things hinder us, are we able to “throw those things off (away)?” In my experience, it’s a difficult thing to start, but once you do, it gets easier and feels better. A lot of the time, I miss the SUV that I used to have. But, I obsess much less over the minivan that we have now. It works better for our family and helps us accomplish Kingdom results better than the SUV did.
When we use a Kingdom lens, the things that matter and the things that don’t become much clearer.
So, here’s the action step: What are the things in your home (or budget) that hinder you from doing Kingdom work?
Derek Kimball is follower of Jesus passionate about living in community and connecting waiting children into safe and permanent families through adoption. He’s a husband to his beautiful wife Kristen, and father to two children, Gideon (3) and Viola (5), who came to their family through adoption from Uganda in 2012. Derek is a math teacher during the day and a motorcycle nerd at night. Read more of Derek’s thoughts on his blog.
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