Simplicity, not Minimalism:
Simplicity is something we don’t think or talk much about, though there are so many reasons why we should.
“Simplicity is a grace… it is also a discipline… Models of simplicity are desperately needed today. Our task is urgent and relevant. Our century thirsts for the authenticity of simplicity, the spirit of prayer, and the life of obedience. May we be the embodiment of that kind of authentic living.” – Richard Foster, Freedom of Simplicity
Not long ago, Cardus publication “Comment” devoted an entire edition to exploring “Minimalism,” but what I think they really wanted to get at was simplicity. Contemporary society is interested in the idea of stylish de-cluttering, but the Christian discipline of Simplicity isn’t about style or self-actualization. It’s about changing the heart, and allowing what we believe to change how we live; to give flesh to the principle that people matter more than possessions.
Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, offers a “checklist” for those who want to live more simply. I have personally found these points so helpful over the years, that I go back to them again and again. Sometimes they challenge me, sometimes they encourage me, but at all times they remind me to acknowledge God in the details of life. Here are Foster’s points, summarized in a checklist form:
- Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
- Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
- Develop a habit of giving things away.
- Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
- Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
- Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
- Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.
- Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech.
- Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
- Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
A Prayer for Faithfulness in the Use of this World’s Goods
whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess:
Grant us grace that we may honour thee with our substance,
and, remembering the account which we must one day give,
may be faithful stewards of thy bounty;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from Forms of Prayer to be Used in Families in The Book of Common Prayer)
The entire Book of Common Prayer is available online here.