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Friday, July 07, 2017

Christian Living Expenses

On more than one occasion I've gone on record to say that Jesus does not command His followers to sell all their possessions. This, of course, is in response to the skeptics who say, "You claim to follow Jesus but don't follow His teachings" and to the "Social Justice Warriors" (SJWs) who claim "You ought to obey Jesus and sell everything" (omitting, tellingly, "Even though we don't."). The easiest way to tell that Jesus did not intend His disciples to sell everything they possess is in the fact that Jesus owned things. Thus, if His command is to own nothing, He violated His own command. (I gave more reasons than that; that's just the easiest one to see.)

Of course, neither the skeptics nor the SJWs will go, "Oh, hey, thanks for clearing that up. We're all good now." So that won't work. Unfortunately, those who agree that Jesus didn't actually command abject poverty for all His followers might also have the wrong reaction. Many will see this as vindication. "Hey, it's okay! Go ahead and be filthy rich!" And that would be a mistake as well.

In Luke's Gospel Jesus makes what today's American Christianity might consider a bad move. He tells the crowds, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26-27) I can hear the health-and-wealth folk turning in their living graves. "Oh, hey, don't say that. That sounds too harsh." I can hear the "seeker-sensitive" folk stirring as well. "Whoa, whoa, Jesus, pump your brakes. No one is going to want to come into the fold if you're telling them things like that." Too late. He already said it.

He goes on to speak of counting the cost. He uses examples -- building a tower or going to war -- and explains that you must know what it will cost up front in order to accomplish what you set out to do. This is why He was being so upfront about the cost. If you want to be Jesus's disciple, it will cost you everything. He concludes,
"So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:33)
To the skeptics and the SJWs out there, Jesus didn't command us to sell everything. To the "best life now" folks, Jesus wasn't pro-rich folk. To the would-be follower of Christ, Christian living is expensive. How expensive? His requirement is "all that he has".

Does that not mean, then, that we are supposed to be poverty-stricken and homeless? Not the point. The point is that nothing must stand between you and Christ. Not "father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life" (Luke 14:26). "One's life," Jesus told one man, "does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15) So the idea that we are not commanded to sell everything is not permission to place anything above Christ. The call is to surrender all. Count the cost. Anything less means you cannot be His disciple.


Bob said...

Is there a difference between being a child of God, and being a disciple?
it seems to be an important distinction.
the requirements for salvation are very different, by imputation of the Holy Spirit, we are quickened to life and believe. where as the requirements for discipleship are more a matter of how we apply our priorities and resources for the mission of Christ after being saved.
logic schem.. All children of God are disciples of Christ, to one degree or another.
Not all disciples of Christ are necessarily children of God.
this distinction i believe is important because if they are co-mingled, one may assume that salvation is based upon the requirements of discipleship. in fact many false teachers claim their authority based upon the notion that they are disciples of Christ.
The true Child of God has both, state and standing conditions. his state may vary, but his state is always the same.
where as the the counterfeit is always working on their state, but has not standing.

Stan said...

I'm not sure someone who is not a child of God can be a disciple of Christ. They might appear so (Matt 7:21-23). There are those among us who John says "went out from us, but they were not of us ... they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." (1 John 2:19-20) There are certainly those that think they're "disciples of Christ", but if, of them, Christ says, "I never knew you", it's hard to imagine they're following Him.

But the underlying point, I think, is valid. "Child of God" is one thing and "disciple of Christ" is another. I think the latter must surely follow the former, but to what extent?

Bob said...

The true Child of God has both, state and standing conditions. his state may vary, but his Standing is always the same. just wanted to correct that,,
i believe you stated it more clearly.
when Jesus was teaching about what is required of a true disciple, was it to a larger crowed or just to the apostles? just curious. i recall that martin luther king once said " if a man cannot find something in this life worth dying for, his life is not worth living..
i am not really sure what this has to do with what we are talking about, but that's part of my charm, i seldom know what i am talking about. .

Stan said...

He was talking to the crowd.