We all do it. By the clothes we choose to put on our back, the food we allow ourselves to eat, and the words that come out of our mouth. Whether we call ourselves a Christian, American, Republican, Vegetarian, or Minimalist. We choose an allegiance to something with every action. We choose to speak for the children overseas who make our clothing or we choose to speak for the corporate CEO who earns a check exploiting those children. We speak out for peace throughout all nations, or we speak out for division and war. We all choose an allegiance.
Reading Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne recently, I was struck by this idea. In Shane’s book (which was life-changing for me, I might add), he is speaking specifically to Christians. He says, as Americans, we either follow the Jesus of the Bible and preach out for peace, help the poor, give our lives to the needy, and love our enemies, or we choose another allegiance. The allegiance to America.
Obviously, this isn’t a blog about how to be a better Christian (though if you are looking for that, read Shane’s work or take a lesson about loving money too much by Joshua Becker), but I think this idea can be applied to minimalism very seriously. To label yourself anything is to allow everyone you know to watch your life closely. As a minimalist, your friends will ask you about that new sweater you’re wearing (you got it to replace an old one), make fun of your empty looking apartment, and notice a slight change in spending habits. Annoying or not, the people around me remind me that I’m either choosing to live a minimalist life or to live by excessive consumerism. Everything that I do speaks to this.
All of this thinking has made me evaluate my life. What do I do on a daily basis that does or doesn’t make me a better person? When it comes down to it, the reason I became a minimalist is because I claimed to follow Jesus, but lived in excess (which I read in the Bible was different than how he lived). So, I got rid of most of my things, changed my shopping and spending habits, ditched the television, and starting writing about the new adventures I was going on. But is that enough? Can I say I’m a minimalist and just stop there? Or is it an ongoing thing that is more a lifestyle than a set of rules?
If you’ve joined the movement for more than a day, you know it’s a way of life. If you are bound to minimalism because of a set of rules, you will fail tomorrow. No one changes their life because they feel like it, but because they have a moral or ethical conviction that it’s the right way to live. And this conviction is what’s at the heart of every true minimalist. We choose an allegiance to the movement that rebels against mediocrity, conformity, and excess. We choose to live on little intentionally and to spend our extra time doing good and forming relationships. This way of life means contentment, security in things more important than the almighty dollar, gratitude, and peace. This movement, this allegiance is a better way of doing life than any pile of stuff can offer. It all comes down to a choice. Which allegiance will you claim?