I have a small bumper sticker on my car that looks similar to this. You would never guess how many comments I get on that tiny sticker - from the guy who changes my oil to people in the grocery store parking lot - something about the value of simplicity catches people's attention.
What is most interesting to me is that people never have negative things to say about simplifying - it seems to be something we all desire in the midst of our consumer culture. We're assured that the next product, the next innovation will be the thing that will finally make us happy/fulfilled/acceptable. So we clutter our lives with stuff that never seems to fulfill our expectations or hopes. In the midst of this, the term 'simplify' seems to come as a breath of fresh air, a sigh of relief. Christians and non-Christians alike, this seems to be a value we yearn for and yet aren't willing to make the tough steps to move toward.
Simplicity is costly. It demands that we find our worth and joy in something greater than the things we're able to accumulate. It requires that we confront the ugly reality that we DO try to find fulfillment in these things. It means consciously choosing against acquiring more, as well as getting rid of our excess. I heard Shane Claiborne speak a couple times and one of his ideas that stuck with me is that the more stuff we have, the more time and energy we have to pour into protecting/maintaining that stuff. I recently moved and found a lot of joy and freedom in cleaning out my apartment and getting rid of a LOT of things - things I thought meant a lot to me or thought I needed that, to be honest, I now can't even remember.
Simplicity is counter-cultural. It is knowing that others will measure you by the things you have/clothes you wear/etc. yet choosing to live outside of these standards of measuring worth - even if it means losing the respect of your peers. We as Christians need to lead the way - letting the world know that there is something better. Fulfillment can't be found in stuff. We have inherent value and dignity as people created in the image of God, and fulfillment and true joy can only be found in knowing Christ. Yet the church seems to miss this and reflects the consumer culture - perhaps I see it more drastically living in Chicago and attending a church mainly comprised of young urban professionals. How can we live-out faith in a compelling way through living simple lives? I think this would be a sigh of relief in the midst of the culture we live in - and opportunity to step off the treadmill of work and accumulation. Simplicity is a compelling witness. It's clearly something the world is longing for!
As the body of Christ, we need to be honest with ourselves asking - how does this stuff clutter our lives and distract us from Him who truly satisfies all our longings; Him who offers us true fulfillment; Him who calls us worthy and valuable simply because we are His sons and daughters?
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. I Thess. 4:11-12