The contemporary minimalist movement is deeply invested in practicing a renunciation that coincides with the reorientation of one’s desires. Its aim is to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life. According to two prominent leaders of this movement, Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the primary goal of minimalism is to live a meaningful life. While contemporary minimalists draw from the wells of Greek stoicism, there are deep resources that the earliest Christians of North Africa provide when addressing the topic of wealth and simplicity. The Christian theologian and teacher Clement (his name meaning merciful) of Alexandria (150-215 CE) developed a rich understanding of renunciation. This week’s article explores his vision of the Christian life focused on the reorientation of a person’s desires such that simplistic living, where giving becomes normative in one’s personal and communal practice.
We are not owners of the world, or anything in it for that matter, though we stand in as caretakers and stewards. So what does it look like when we recognize that “the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it?” After all, we will be giving back to God all that he has lent us, our bodies, money, houses, cars and the earth we inhabit.