When Jesus suggested the man sell all his stuff, he didn’t take it very well. It must have been a shock to consider losing all his possessions and, then, to give money away. Although he was promised "treasure in heaven", maybe heaven seemed far off. So, he walked away. (See Matthew 19:21)
But surely, Jesus didn’t intend for the man to become homeless and hungry. Perhaps he perceived that the man cherished things and money more than he valued a spiritual outlook. Maybe the radical move to let go of his material possessions meant to leave a material way of thinking and living for a spiritual standpoint that would open him to spiritual and tangible abundance.
I think the third point of Jesus’ instruction is really the key: “Follow me.” The way I see it, when we follow Jesus - his teachings and his way of living - we have everything we need. And more. We have abundance. We learn what eternal life is. And we learn to live that life now.
Of Christ Jesus, Mary Baker Eddy - Discoverer of Christian Science - wrote, "Understanding the nothingness of material things, he spoke of flesh and Spirit as the two opposites, — as error and Truth, not contributing in any way to each other's happiness and existence. Jesus knew, 'It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.'" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 356)
I recently asked myself, if Jesus asked me to do what he asked that man to do, would I? Or would I walk away?
My husband and I live in different states and have been taking turns living in my house and his house. More and more, we stay in his house. One day, thinking about my empty house, a tiny thought skittered by, “Maybe you should sell your house.”
I pushed the thought away. “I love my house!”
The tiny thought became more insistent. And, I began to see how sensible it was. So, I made the decision to go ahead and list it for sale.
Then, an insistent thought loudly clamored, “Since you have a full house here, you will have to sell, give away, or trash everything you own.”
Was I ready to get rid of all my possessions?
Of course, I was only thinking of them. I could give my children whatever they wanted, sell the rest and still think of them.
Now, the house is listed, the children have their names on the things they would like to have, and I see there will be opportunities to give to the poor.
All this is well and good. But what has me really excited are my prayers to more radically follow Jesus - to live and love more generously, to cherish my spirituality more than material thoughts and things, and to live my abundant, eternal, unlimited life every day.
Kay Olson is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. She contributes regularly to this blog and is loving the summer project on Time4thinkers.com: Radical Acts of Jesus.
1. BE childlike.
2. BEFRIEND lepers, prostitutes, “undesirables.”
3. CAST the beam out of your own eye.
4. CHALLENGE Pharisees.
5. DO GOOD to people who hate you.
6. FEED the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter strangers, visit prisoners.
7. FORGIVE 70 x 7.
8. HEAL the sick, cast out evil, raise the dead.
9. LIVE more abundantly.
10. LOSE your life to find it.
11. LOVE your neighbor as yourself.
12. MULTIPLY loaves and fishes.
13. SEEK the kingdom first — don’t worry about food/drink/clothing.
14. SELL what you have - give to the poor.
15. TAKE up your bed and walk.
16. TRAVEL without a wallet.
17. WASH someone’s feet.
18. WALK on water.
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