Sell Your Stuff, Then We’ll Talk

The story of the rich man who sorta kinda wanted to follow Jesus (Mark 10) is well known. He wants to follow, right up to the point where it starts to hurt: sell all your stuff and come follow.

Not so much.

Here are some thoughts that are leftovers from a Devotional I was writing on that passage:

In the Jewish tradition there were two great commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might, and love your neighbor as yourself. The Ten Commandment summarize how this love is to be enacted. The rich man believes he has kept the commandments, but he is in for a surprise.

We are prepared for this surprise when Jesus confronts the man for calling him “good.” God alone is good. If you are calling Jesus good, are you going to be willing to follow through on the implications? Will you recognize that following Jesus on the way to the cross is what it now looks like to love God with all your heart?

Here we are face to face with a call from Jesus that is just as offensive to us as it was to his initial audience. We want to prosper according to the kingdom of this world and still thrive as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. We want to separate the call to gather and worship and pray from the world’s calling that we go and earn and keep.

But Jesus is Lord of all. His is not a reign that can leave us serving both God and money. His reign takes every bit of the world as we know it and flips it on its head.

Jesus here is not simply calling the man to follow in some general sense. Jesus is calling the man to follow Jesus as Jesus is on his way to die in Jerusalem. The reign of Jesus is not one that leaves our lives in our own hands. Even when we have obeyed every command that God has given, our lives are not our own. Jesus’ call is to “take up your cross and follow,” and that means that the faithfulness that leads to eternal life will always entail listening to the specific call he lays on each one of us.

8 thoughts on “Sell Your Stuff, Then We’ll Talk”

  1. So true, Daniel. However, the flip side to all of this is that following Jesus also means that those who have resources should do all within their power to help those without them. To preach that following means giving up all the resources that you have in order to be faithful sometimes leads to an indifference to those who are following and have no resources. The best thing that I ever heard on this subject was a talk by Amy Jill Levine on the widow’s mite. How we preach about sacrificial giving should always include an introspective look at our own resources. Are we preventing someone from falling through the cracks into the abyss? Or are we thinking, “Oh, if that person were a faithful follower he/she wouldn’t mind losing everything.” While that may be partially true, a hurting world will see the hypocrisy if such preaching is done by one who lacks nothing materially.

  2. Great to see you back online Daniel. I hope your sabbatical was enriching. I loved this post. However, I doubt many people will respond to it. The reason being is you were not pondering general ecclesiastical ideas. You were not speaking about God’s general desires to a large group of people. You bore witness to God’s ability to address man directly and of our personal responsibility to that living One. How much theological wrangling goes on trying to simply cover this fact. If you continue on in this vein you may not have many disciples but the ones you do have will be of great value both to God and man.

  3. Daniel, one further comment for clarification’s sake. While anyone’s encounter with God may be valid, it cannot be held up as a “valid ought” for everyone else. One must, however, be able to distill what is “essential” from the story in order to fulfill the desire of God in their own life. Pray tell, what say you Daniel.

    1. To your overall point, I agree that everyone must listen to God’s word for his or her own story. I’m a bit more nervous about “distilling the essential” from any given pericope in scripture, though.

  4. Good stuff Daniel. I also see this passage as another example of trust as the foundational relationship that God is seeking. From the start, Adam and Eve are told to trust God’s way rather than for them to define what is good or evil. For forty years Israel is taught that they can trust God that there will be food in the morning and not to try to put some aside just to be sure. Isaiah’s message is also: trust God not the nations. The rich young man is just another in a long list who is trusting in something other than God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.