Christian Minimalism

Swimming Upstream

NEWSFLASH: Being a Christian minimalist is counter-cultural.


Society constantly tells us:

…More is better. We are what we own, so we need to own lots of impressive and expensive things.

…We are what we do for our job. Having an impressive job title should be one of our main goals.

…Our financial bottom line is what defines our self worth. If we don’t make a lot of money, we should work harder and climb up the ladder to make more money.

…Being busy is a badge of honor. Resting is just wasted time that could be used producing more.

…Being famous, having power, and receiving worldly accolades are worthy goals to continuously strive for.


Christian minimalists, on the other hand:

…Aim to live with less, intentionally consume, and focus on what’s most important, rather than continuously buying things that won’t ultimately make us happy (Luke 12:15-21).

…Strive to focus on what God is calling us to do (our vocation) rather than basing our identity on our job title or how we make a living (1 Corinthians 7:17).

…Understand, as Jesus tells us in the Gospels, that having money actually makes it harder to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-24) and amassing wealth shouldn’t be our main goal (1 Timothy 6:10). Our identity is as beloved children of God (1 John 3:1).

…Intentionally spend Sabbath time in rest and renewal alone, with our loved ones, and with God (Matthew 14:23).

…Know that fame, power, and worldly praise are not our goal; we are called to serve rather than be served, as Jesus did (Luke 22:24-30).

In short, as Christian minimalists, we live counter-culturally. We are swimming upstream, like salmon.


Salmon Swim Upstream

When it’s time to reproduce, salmon make the arduous journey swimming upstream against the current. These fish go back to where they themselves were born and lay eggs in this more protected area.

After they reproduce, the salmon die and their remains provide nutrients for their growing offspring. The salmon’s difficult trip upstream– although it results in their death– actually ensures the continuation of their species.

This biology lesson is in itself interesting, but it can also teach us a lot about what it means to live counter-culturally as Christian minimalists.


Our Swim Upstream

Being a Christian minimalist and living counter-culturally by swimming against the current is not easy. Like salmon swimming upstream, it can be difficult to live a different lifestyle than everyone around us. Temptations tug at us on a regular basis, because it’s frequently easier to live like everyone else.

But God calls us to a different life. As Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We are called to live differently than society’s accepted lifestyle.


Back to Our Birth Place

Salmon swimming upstream are making their way back to their own birth place to reproduce.

As Christian minimalists, we are called to return to God’s purpose in our own birth. As Paul writes in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” We were not created to gain wealth, power, worldly praise, material possessions, or fame. We were created for God– to love and serve God, and to love and serve those whom God has created.


Dying to Our Old Selves For New Life

After salmon swim upstream back to their birth place and reproduce, they die. At first, it seems like their journey was ultimately their demise. But in their death comes new life– the newborn fish are now able to live because of their parents.

As Jesus tells us in John 12:24, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” We are called both as Christians and as minimalists to die to our old selves, our old ways of living, so that new life for us and for others can begin. And by dying and rise to a new life of less, we are better able to make sure that future generations have the resources they need to live as well.


As we live counter-culturally and swim upstream, we can live a more minimalist lifestyle in Christ. How are you being called by God to the counter-cultural lifestyle of Christian minimalism?





Becca Ehrlich, AKA The Christian Minimalist, is striving to be a Christian minimalist in a consumer society. She currently lives in Upstate New York with her husband Will and their son Theo. You can read more about her story and how her blog came to exist by clicking the website link above.


  1. Joe

    July 30, 2019 - 2:21 pm

    Appreciate the article. Thank you. It is good to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Chrsist, and press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. If we seek first to be filled with the Spirit of God and conformed to Christ in our lives, virtues such as what you describe will naturally follow. But if we try to put on those virtues as first priority, thinking, “this is what a Christian should look like, so this is what I’m going to do”, then we err and set ourselves up for frustration. God bless you!

  2. Seneathia Harris

    July 12, 2020 - 11:08 am

    Blessings beloved! Found your wonderful article after trying to understand a dream. Very refreshing

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