I've been thinking about these types questions lately. One of my concerns is how difficult it is to see blind spots in my understanding of Scripture. In my own life I've noticed how difficult it is to recognize when I am looking at things through a middle class American lense rather than a Christian lense. We live impacted and influenced by our surroundings and often can't see how those surroundings alter the way we think (or don't think) about things.
A book written a few years ago by David Platt, attempts to address some of these questions. The book is titled, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. There are a few quotes I'd like to share.
"Somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves." Pg. 7
"Yet the kind of abandonment Jesus asked of the rich young man is at the core of Jesus' invitation throughout the Gospels. Even his simple call in Matthew 4 to his disciples--'Follow me'--contained radical implications for their lives. Jesus was calling them to abandon their comforts, all that was familiar to them and natural for them." Pg. 11
|Christ and the Rich Young Ruler|
What do we do with the verse after verse in Scripture that tells us to give of ourselves, give up our lives, give up our belongings, give up our family? Many of these verses speak directly against what the American dream is telling us. Frankly, many are speaking against what today's American church is telling us.
- Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-20a, 21
- Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10: 37-39
- Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let them deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26
- At the end of Christ's interaction with the Rich Young Ruler Christ says, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." Matthew 19:29-30
- Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:32-34
- Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, "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. . . . So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:25-27, 33
- Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me: and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:25-26
- And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Acts 2:44-45
But its too easy to stop there.