What to do with your extra Tunics

Blogging has allowed me to meet people from all over the world, and I’m happy to introduce one of them to you in todays guest post.  Joshua Becker is a blogger who is deeply involved in his church on the east coast, and writes a marvelous blog called, “Becoming Minimalist”, filled with challenging and encouraging thoughts about living simply.  I hope you’ll check it out.   Here’s his advent contribution to Fibonacci Faith.  Thanks Joshua!

John the Baptist had an incredibly unique ministry. As was prophesied by Isaiah roughly 750 years prior, his sole purpose was to “prepare the way for Jesus, make straight paths for him.”
This duty holds historical significance as it was common for kings to send out messengers ahead of their traveling party. These messengers would make arrangements for their arrival (I guess Travelocity hadn’t gone on-line yet) and in some cases, literally smooth the roads ahead and make the paths straight for the convoy.
Of course, Jesus is no ordinary earthly king. His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. And as a result, he worried little about the physical roads that he traveled… but cared deeply about the peoples’ hearts. To that end, we find John the Baptist arriving on the scene ahead of Jesus to prepare hearts for his ministry.
As we continue through this Advent season, we would be wise to heed the words of John the Baptist. After all, our celebration this Christmas season finds its foundation in the birth of Jesus… but our celebration finds its fulfillment in the ministry of Jesus within our hearts. The preparation of our hearts for the king’s arrival should not be overlooked. And John the Baptist’s message should be highly regarded.
In Matthew 3, he called us to “Repent and look forward to the coming kingdom of heaven. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And no longer rely on your physical father (Abraham) for God’s favor, but seek a new spiritual family through the coming Messiah.”
In response, “The crowd asks him, ‘What then should we do?’ John answers, ‘The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’” (Luke 3:10-11)
For most of my life, I have interpreted this verse in two ways. First, I considered myself lucky that I didn’t own two tunics… because if I did, this would be an uncomfortable teaching. Second, I interpreted this verse to mean that I should be involved in issues of poverty and social justice for the purpose of helping those less fortunate than I. Both of those interpretations left the door open wide enough that I could easily walk through.
But then, I became a minimalist… and everything started to change.
Two years ago, my wife and I decided to embrace a minimalist lifestyle after a short conversation with our neighbor. She encouraged us to pare down our possessions to only the essentials. Since then, we have sold, donated, recycled, or discarded roughly 60-70% of our personal possessions. And in so doing, we have found incredible freedom.
Consider for just a moment how owning fewer physical possessions would change your life: 1) less time cleaning, 2) less shopping, 3) less stress, 4) less environmental impact, 5) more time on your hands, 6) the counter-cultural example for your kids, and 7) more finances to support causes you love… just to name a few.
I have come to think of it this way: The less possessions you own, the greater your ability to purse your heart’s passions! Once, your life is no longer filled with the acquisition and maintenance of physical belongings, you can redirect your limited time and energy towards the things that really matter.
And suddenly, the words of John the Baptist begin to take on a new brand meaning. You see, once I stand face-to-face with the reality that tunics are stealing my time, energy, finances, and passion, I can see the danger in owning two (or three or four). Each extra tunic that I own steals a little bit of my heart away from Jesus and hinders my ability to completely follow Him.
John the Baptist wasn’t just calling us to care for the poor and feed the hungry. He was calling us to remove the distractions that keep our heart from fully receiving Christ and his ministry. He was calling us to throw off the physical possessions that keep us bound to this world. And he was calling to forsake a physical kingdom so that we could better hold on to a spiritual one. Giving away our extra tunics isn’t just about helping our neighbors – it’s about helping us be better prepared to follow Him.
This Advent Season, remove the unneeded tunics from your home and life… and prepare your heart to meet Jesus anew.
About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • http://seekingoutsimplicity.blogspot.com Mandy

    Love this! I’ve been following Joshua Becker’s blog for awhile now – excited to see 2 of my favorite blogs make a connection. It’s funny what connections can be made within the blogosphere…and inspiration found! Thank you both for your words of encouragement today & often!

    • http://www.becomingminimalist.com/ Joshua Becker

      Thanks for following Mandy.

  • http://amillionsmallsteps.blogspot.com Juliet

    Awesome post, Joshua! I love how you’ve made a great connection between Christian living and minimalism. I am on the same path, so I’ll be delving into your blog a whole lot more now! Congrats.

    • http://www.becomingminimalist.com/ Joshua Becker

      Juliet, Awesome. Minimalism has always been a spiritual journey for both my wife and me. It has finally helped us make sense of Jesus’ teachings (and John the Baptist’s) on money and possessions.

  • Jenny

    Yet I wonder, is there a danger in getting rid of too many “tunics?” Can we be so set on making our lives simple that we leave no room for others? What if we give up our house to live in a van, or give up our car for a bike? Decisions for simplicity seem, to me, to often simplify one’s life so much that they are no longer able to give.

  • http://www.becomingminimalist.com/ Joshua Becker

    True, John did us tell to keep one for ourself. We have certainly kept many things in our home that are essential for accomplishing our goals and passions. For example, we still have 8 plates, 8 glasses, etc. because we often entertain and love showing hospitality to new families. But in my experience, rare is the American that errs on the side of too little.


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