If you missed the Intro post in this series, be sure to read it. It will provide more context around this series.
Jesus gives 6 very clear statements about being one of His followers or disciples. These are not requirements for salvation or forgiveness; rather they are conditions or evidences of being His disciple.
Mark of Discipleship #3:
“So then, none of you can be My disciples who does not give up all his possessions.” Luke 14:33
The Call from Christ is to first, Hate; then Suffer; and now Forsake! Where do I sign up? There has got to be monastery someplace with my name on it!
Is this really a vow of poverty? A commitment to destitution? Are these the things that Jesus requires of His followers? Assuming I have given away everything, am I then closer to God than the one who retains a little for themselves and their family? With so many Biblical examples of wealthy people that were followers of God (Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon), it seems out of place to require a poverty approach to discipleship.
Let’s muddy the water a little more: Mark 10:17-22 (NASB)
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’
And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”Looking at him, Jesus 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.”
But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
Jesus questions the man about why he calls Him “good”. Perhaps the man was just paying Jesus an empty compliment but words mean things and Jesus takes the occasion to drive home a point. I believe Jesus wants to force the man to acknowledge His origin and raise his idea of who Jesus really is. The rest of what Jesus has to say is meaningless unless the man recognizes Who he is talking to. If you ask a question of your college professor or even your pastor, you will get an answer that you can – and should – evaluate, weigh and critique. You will then have the freedom to agree or challenge the answer with your own opinions. But when you ask a question of God, the answer is final and requires surrender and acceptance. Anything less is in opposition to His will. Remember, we are talking about Discipleship – being a Christ-follower! The cost is already to “Hate” and “Suffer“. Now we are asked to “Forsake” our opinions of Who God is and replace them with the knowledge and experience of Who God says He is…Good!
Then Jesus says, “One thing you lack“, but He is not referring to a condition of poverty of possessions. He is referring to a condition of poverty of the heart. While the man had kept the Laws of Moses, he was missing the the first law – The Greatest Commandment – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind (Deut. 6:5). His love was misplaced and that is why he walked away “grieving”.
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake the man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ for which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Forsaking” is not the process of becoming poor, it is the practice of setting priorities!
May the things you forsake be used to further His work in you!
Open Mic: Share your thoughts
- In what areas do you need to begin forsaking things in order to put Christ in His rightful position?