One of the drums that I beat with regularity is the “Jesus wasn’t about things you can’t do” drum. Having come of age in a fairly conservative Episcopal Church while attending a very conservative Young Life fellowship, I know a thing or two about the lists of things that Christians can’t do. Things Christians can’t do include: drinking, smoking, dancing, having sex outside of marriage, listening to rock music, hanging out with non-Christians, not not share their faith (to whom, I’m not sure since everyone you hang out with is a Christian), doing drugs, cheating on tests, playing soccer on Sundays, cursing, being gay, or worshiping in an Episcopal church; to name a few.
As a reaction against that mindset, I’m allow about what being a disciple of Jesus frees us to do: living into the fullness of our created humanity, giving generously, loving our neighbor, sharing our hopes and joys, etc., etc. So imagine my joy as I read the Gospel lesson appointed for Sunday as saw it end with this sentence, “So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
You can’t be a disciple of Jesus unless you give up all your possessions!?! I’m not sure I signed up for this. I mean, I’ve done a pretty good job of dancing around that time where Jesus tells the rich, young ruler to sell everything he has an give it to the poor. Obviously, that was a very specific thing Jesus told just that guy to do. But here, there doesn’t seem to be much dancing around this one. “None of you can become my disciple,” Jesus says to the large crowd that was following him. That seems to include everyone. Even me.
Maybe it is about stuff. Maybe Jesus actually means we should live in communities and share everything. Or maybe, and quite frankly, hopefully, it means that we shouldn’t be tied to all of our stuff. Maybe as long as we are chasing bigger houses, better cars, or the latest Apple release, we can’t really be focused on Christ. Maybe as long as we are seeking after letters behind our names, zeros on our paychecks, or job titles, we can’t really be seeking after the Kingdom. Maybe as long as are paying attention to what the Jones’ are up to, we can’t be paying attention to what God is doing in and through and for us.
At least, that’s what I hope he means.