Today I was journalling and fleshing out some of the deeper issues of the complexity of my own life and lifestyle. (I love how God fleshes these things out in His own time—it’s truly revelatory.) I want to talk a little bit about what I believe is one of the core values of living a simple life, in my ongoing pursuit of what I believe to be a biblical principle: what I’m calling lifestyle minimalism.
Matthew 16:25 is the verse I’m talking about—one that is very dear to our hearts:
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 16:25, King James Version (1769 Oxford ‘Authorized Version’)
This is not news, but in the context of lifestyle-minimalism, I think it’s a core principle. The reason I think this is because today, while journalling, I realised that a lot of complexity in my life comes from me trying to save my own life, rather than lose it, as this verse says to do.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33, King James Version (1769 Oxford ‘Authorized Version’)
Matthew gives the if/then follow-up to the previous verse, saying that if you seek to save your own life, you will lose it, but if you will lose yourself for my sake, you will find it. So if you lay down your life for His sake, which is very similar to seeking first the kingdom of God, all these things will be added unto you. In a nutshell, it’s loosely similar to the saying you get what you give. It goes without saying that this way of thinking is truly opposite to how we live life in The West today. Especially in American cultures, we are taught to ‘get ours’ first, and this is widely seen as simply taking care of yourself. It’s seen positively, not as selfish behaviour.
But from a lot of experience of seeking to ‘save’ my own life, I have seen that this method simply doesn’t work. It’s an endless rabbit-hole that throws you into endless strife and dissatisfaction. This is not the way we were meant to live. Remember, The Kingdom is upside-down. The way things work there are not the same as how they work here. Up is down, and down is up, and black is white and white is black. But the fact is that His kingdom is higher than ours, as His ways are higher than ours, and the culture of The Kingdom supersedes the culture of our kingdom. His truth is absolute, and the truth of The Kingdom is the highest truth, and as such, is true everywhere, not just in His kingdom. It is also true in our kingdom, because His kingdom is higher than ours.
Seeking to lose your life for His sake is the highest way, even here on Earth.
We all know by now that the ways of this world don’t always work, and aren’t always the best. Personally, I believe this, as with all biblical truths implicitly, but the rubber has not met the road for me, because I still seek to save my own life. Not in the sense of oh no I’m about to die, I think I’ll move out of the way of this Mack truck, but more in the sense of ‘getting mine’ before it’s too late. It’s a sad state to be in, and inherently clashes with a lifestyle of minimalism, because I am inadvertently taking responsibility for my own life and everything in it, rather than trusting God that all these things shall be added unto me.
Taking this responsibility upon myself is like trying to control a tornado—it’s impossible because I just don’t have the power. Trying to control something you don’t have the power to control will only result in constant discontent, disappointment and failure. It can also be very stressful—think about it. You’re taking on the responsibility for something you have little to no control over. It’s like being tasked to get a beautiful fresco up on your church’s ceiling without being allowed to hire a painter, so you try to do it yourself and you know it’s going to be rubbish (if you’re an amazing painter, bear with me ;-) It’s a plan doomed to failure from the start—that’s what it’s like trying to control my own life. It’s frustrating and ends in failure time and time again.
What struck me as I was journaling earlier was how simple it all is, though. It’s like wait a second—all I have to do is trust God to do all these things? You mean to tell me I’ve been trying to do all this myself when God wants to do it for me? I felt like a complete idiot. What on Earth made me think I could control my own life? What made me think I had more control over it than God himself?
This year, I hope to learn to yet again release control to God. I don’t want to try to control everything anymore, I want to believe He wants the best for me, and when He tells me to lose my life for His sake I want to believe it’s in my best interest to do so. The rubber has to meet the road.