I recently read the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. This book blew me away. I will give my “disclaimer”--- I don’t agree with all Jen’s doctrine, but I love this girl’s heart. In fact, the very dedication of the book was enough to make me want to read more. It reads “For Jesus, who lived so lightly on this earth, he didn’t even have a place to lay his head. I want so deeply to be like you.” Could there be more telling words? Do we REALLY want to be like Jesus? Yes, I definitely would say that I do in terms of his character. But his life also lacked a LOT of the comforts that mine hold--- do I really have to take that part of the “package?” Jen sets out on a journey to change her lifestyle and stop ignoring the fact that often, our daily lives have nothing to do with the life of Christ. Each month, Jen picked one area that she was going to change and simplify. She chose food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, shopping and stress. Each month, Jen boiled one of these things down to the basics (like eating only 7 things or wearing 7 things for ONE MONTH—how basic can you get?) Sound extreme? It does to me. But like Jen, I am an extremist. When I see something that needs to change, I can’t just keep going. It weighs me down and makes me feel like a hypocrite. Similarly, Jen saw that she was buying into the materialism of our culture and she wasn’t okay with it.
So what is the point? Did doing these things make Jen more holy? No, certainly not by the acts themselves. But I am supposed to mature my character and be more like Christ. Do I think Christ had a bunch of expensive outfits to wear? Do I think Christ ate wonderful feasts with all sorts of flavors all the time? Cause I hate to break it to myself—the Christ I follow is a man of simplicity. He put God first. All. The. Time. Do I?
The thing I like about Jen is that she is real. She isn’t some weirdo who wants the world to notice her extremism. No, she is just like me. She loves good food. She loves her family. She loves comfort. But she also loves God. She doesn’t pretend like she enjoys giving up her comforts (although she also doesn’t constantly whine about it either, cause that would defeat the point). What did she learn from these 7 months of giving up on excess? She learned to be closer to God, to care more about others, to realize that she is living in a culture OBSESSED with stuff we simply don’t need. Why does any of that matter? I will end with a quote from her book:
“Love God most. Love your neighbor as yourself. This is everything.
If we say we love God, then we will care about the poor.
This earth is God’s and everything in it. We should live like we believe this.
What we treasure reveals what we love.
Money and stuff have the power to ruin us.
Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God. This is what is required.”
This book is not about doing exactly what Jen did. It is about looking at our lives and drawing closer to God. I know that I want to always be growing, going forward in my walk following Jesus.