Skip to main content

Too Small A Thing, Part 2

One common question that I did not address in my talk last Saturday is: Do I have to sell my stuff and give to the poor in order to follow Christ?

Where does this question stem from?

In Luke 12, we find a provocative series of remarks from Jesus. First, addressing the crowd, he tells a story of a rich man who built bigger barns for himself, collecting more possessions that he might enjoy his life. Jesus calls the man a fool and the story ends with the rich man's life being suddenly taken from him in judgment of his greed.

Jesus follows up this story with a personal address to his disciples, instructing them not to be anxious about material things, such as clothes and food, but rather to trust in the daily provision of their Father. He then instructs them, " “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

A second place we find this radical call to "sell your possessions and give to the poor" is found in Mark 10, where a young, rich man approaches Jesus and inquires as to what he must do to receive eternal life. He vouches for his own moral integrity, saying he has kept all of the commandments of Scripture (really??). Jesus, looks deeper inside the man, he "felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

There are two common extremes of response to Jesus' instructions found here for his disciples and this young, rich man. The first is to universalize the teaching and say that to be a true disciple of Christ, one must be completely obedient to sell everything. The second extreme is to entirely minimize and depersonalize these words of Scripture and say that it was a specific instruction for specific people at a specific time and we are not bound to Jesus words. The truth is, both of these extremes are incorrect applications of God's Word.

Now, as David Platt says in Radical, if you breathe a sigh of relief at this acknowledgement, thinking "Phew, good, I can keep my stuff," then perhaps Jesus' words here are for you personally. Ultimately, we each have a discipleship call from Christ. He knows the idols of our hearts, our motivations, our fleshly weaknesses. As his followers, it is not just righteousness by faith that is our gift from him, but we also "share in his sufferings" as Paul so clearly states. 

We must each look at Christ and his Word and ask: Am I willing to go as far as he asks me to? What is he saying to me?

Thankfully, our Father looks compassionately upon his children and is patient with us. But he is also so jealous for our undivided allegiance, that he is willing to ask us - require of us? - difficult endeavors. Greed and worldliness will kill us and he cares too much about us to let us get numbed and killed by them. For some, that will mean selling everything and giving to the poor. For some it will mean moving to the inner city. For some it will mean befriending very difficult people. For some it will mean risking getting fired at work or losing the affection of your co-workers because you had to stand on the side of integrity rather than greed.  

But, remember, we must each look at the cross and empty tomb, the only place we find the hope, grace and joy to willingly lay down our lives for the glory of God and the service of our neighbors. 

Is Jesus asking you to sell your possessions and give to the poor. Maybe. Just maybe. He cares more about our devotion than he does about us having lots of stuff and comfort. He says to each of us the same thing he said to his disciples, "Do not be afraid."


Popular posts from this blog

Pilgrims Looking for the Sun


Pilgrims Looking for the Sun
This weekend across America, our transportation and information highways will glut with millions of eclipse-chasers travelling from the far corners of the globe order to find an unobstructed view along the “total eclipse” zone spanning the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment for many. A total eclipse of this nature hasn’t spanned this country for a century, though, the upcoming century holds many such eclipses in store. I myself will be joining the ranks of eclipse-chasers, making a relatively brief journey south to my parent’s property in Sparta, IL, which is comfortably within the totality zone.
I’m a latecomer in educating myself about this rare event. Only after watching two videos (by Smarter Every Day and Vox) and discussing the astronomically phenomenal event with my friend, Kacey, did my eyes begin to open in wonder and amazement at the unique phenomena of a total eclipse. Previously, I thought, oh, I’ll be…

Leatherbound Books

If you're into reading or just like thinking that you are, you should check out LibraryThing. Pretty sweet site actually. I have many leather bound books in my online catalogue. You can see for yourself: The site allows you to see users who have similar reading tastes as you and then you can check out their book reviews and other reading selections. I didn't have time yet to upload the Bearenstein Bears books I read back in high scho...I mean kindergarten. Mostly--well entirely, actually--my catalogue is filled with some books I've had the chance to read since the start of college. The point when I began to take reading seriously. Useless site? Ah...I wouldn't say so. It may help me to broaden my reading intake a bit. Or, maybe I'm just a sucker for these novel sites that allow us to connect with others and share knowledge.

The Stop Sign

While driving a new Iraqi family home from the clinic yesterday, I slowed the car at a stop sign near their apartment. As I brought the car to a stop, the father looked over at me, smiled and said in broken English, "In Baghdad, no stop. Too dangerous."

Stop signs. Always taken for granted. Now a reminder of chaos and tragedy in our world.