Is a minimalist life a holy life?

Chris Nye
7 min readJun 7, 2019

Note: As my latest book, Less of More, has been released, I’ve encountered a similar question/comment regarding minimalism. This new book has a minimalist-style cover and sounds like it could address the topic. It does not. I was careful not to include it in the book for some of the reasons outlined here (it’s a trend I desire my book to outlast) and not here (I kind of find it boring).

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Pastors are invited into homes. It might be a dinner scheduled many weeks out or it might be directly after a death or diagnosis, where my arrival is entirely unplanned. No matter the reason, as a pastor, you see a lot of homes.

The tables turn, however, as my wife and I host people about twice a week in our house as well. There’s a level of tidying up to be done before the guests arrive that causes me a bit of anxiety as I try to guess the various ways they might judge the state of my house.

About an hour before people come over, I’ve caught myself overanalyzing every corner of the rooms the guests will enter: should I pull the oven out and sweep behind it? My plates are 9 years old and were our wedding gifts…will anyone notice? My house usually has books shoved into corners, will someone recommend I watch Marie Kondo?

Anxiety around hosting one another has become an issue in our minimalist-obsessed culture. Books about tidying up sell really well, and TV shows about fixing your house are watched more than talent shows. Instagram personalities and podcasts fill our online spaces with promises to make our lives better by showing us a clean house and saying, “This can be your life!”

And, yes, it can be my life, but must it be my life? How central is the tidying up culture to a Christian’s walk with Jesus? Minimalism has been swept into Christian circles without batting an eye: of course it works, we think, less stuff means more Jesus!

Greed all the way around

But this cannot be true. Greed is less about how much stuff you have and a lot more about your relationship to what you have. Jesus warns us: “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15, NLT). There are all sorts of greed, Jesus says. So be on the lookout for…

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Chris Nye

Living in Portland, Oregon with my wife and son. Doctoral candidate at Duke University. Author of a few books: chrisnye.co/books