“So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”
Did Jesus really say these things? > Luke 14:33
“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison — your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
Did Jesus really mean these things? Literally? Most today would probably say, “NO, not literally. But that is our modern Christianity speaking. Of course he meant what he said, and the early church in Acts proves it! So what do we do now?
Some would try to say, as I also considered, maybe all that is just for those who become “Disciples”. I just want to be a simple child of God. However, that don’t work either. Jesus plainly taught to go and make “Disciples” of all nations, teaching them to do what I have commanded. Commanded? We are to become disciples.
Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
What the heck does that mean? Again, does he really mean that?
These were just a few of the reasons I left the modern American Church system. It was time to get real. It was time to face the real Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth. Am I a real Christian, follower of Christ, or not? And as I left you hanging in Part II, I had just shared the vision of how I wanted to share my house with the less fortunate, and my wife was setting there looking at me with eyes that plainly said, “You’re breaking my heart!”
That was the most difficult fellowship we had had to that date, and I know it was difficult for our third person as well, my friend Jason, as he felt her pain too, but it was REAL. We were not playing Church.
The only thing I own that has any value, and really the bank still owns, but we hope to own someday, is our house. It’s a very basic house. It’s 1400 square feet, 3-4 bedrooms depending, and ONE bathroom. We raised 5 children here. Four boys and a daughter. Here’s a couple pictures.
So I laid our simple house before the Lord and asked, “Lord, how do I share this place in such a way as the Kingdom of God shines here? I bring this place into your common stock. Everything I own is not simply brought into a common community, but actually is common stock with your Kingdom. I own nothing here, but everything in you.”
Now realize, my wife is not in on this conversation. I would have loved for her to be in it, but this was not a question she was ready to ask, even with all the teaching I been doing on this. There finally comes a time we have to force an issue. Are we real, or not? Are we going to take up “our” cross, or not? It was time to put this on the table, but before I could do that, I needed to know what the vision could be? How could I share this house without actually selling it and giving all the money away? Actually, there wouldn’t be much money, if any.
We have to read the WHOLE word of God, and a man who does not take care of his family is worse than an infidel. And Jesus said to love our neighbor as our self. As in the Lord’s prayer, God is not asking us to become destitute. Our needs are to be met. But what could we do with this place to show the real Jesus who teaches us to share all things?
Let me digress 20 years for a moment. Back when I did not understand all this, I was heavily involved in Youth Ministry. Due to various circumstances at that time, we decided to use our house as a Friday Night Youth Church. We had an old van I picked “teenagers” up in. Believe it or not, this outreach started growing like crazy! We eventually had 40 teens coming in this house every Friday night! Yes, this very same 1400 sq. ft. house! (My wife wanted to shoot me then too, but the kids eventually won her over.) This group was about 50/50 % street kids to Christian kids! It was the most successful street outreach I ever had! And we preached to them hard!
This went on for 3 years! (And we do have stories we could tell.) And yes, the house took a tremendous beating. But I took a low paying job in order to start this ministry, a janitor’s job. I left truck driving. And after 3 years our vehicles were on their last leg, our bills were climbing, there was enough money to support the meetings, but not the house and vehicles. After all, it was our house. No one wanted to pay our house payment, or buy us a new vehicle. That was our responsibility.
So I had to go back to making more money. The ministry dissolved in sadness, but we remembered the good things, and began slowly crawling out of our hole. I still think people with small minds failed to support a ministry God was using. Or do Christians always obey God, and it died because we were doing something wrong? Will God let something die to test people? Hhmmm.
But during that time, and even to this day, Brenda (my wife), and I talk about all the nice houses around us, for ours is the runt of the litter in this neighborhood, and even though all these people had greater means to share, a greater house, greater vehicles, greater income, none of them were willing to share in such a sacrificial way. Such nice places kept only for them and theirs. And we wonder why God goes to poorer people like us?
This is the real Jesus Christ, to love your neighbor as yourself. Has it gotten that real for you at the Church you attend? Is it really a Church?
Well… that was twenty years ago, and after that I kept trying the normal Church system thinking maybe we failed because we ended up on our own, but all I kept finding was a watered down Jesus and watered down message all these years, until I could stand it no more. And now full circle, here I was again. My wife looking at me almost ready to cry. The one I love most in this world, and I was hurting her, causing her pain.
We’re over 1,000 words already. The top picture in this article is our place of a secret garden. Our house makes an “L” shape, and in that back area God spoke to me of the next step in our following the real Jesus and having all things common, real communion, real community. Looks like the details of the vision must wait for Part IV. I have not forgotten our story of “Yinney the Sloth who needed to POO”, but there are already 36 chapters to read and there will eventually be more. I write what God gives me, and for some reason God wants to camp here for a while. So here we are.
I know messages like this don’t get many “likes” in a selfish culture as ours. Unfortunately, it don’t seem to get many likes in the Church either. What is God to make of that? What are we to make of that? What does it tell us about ourselves? Dare we answer such questions? Do we really follow Christ? Are we really saved?
God’s word advises us to judge ouselves, so we need not be judged by others. Are we an honest judge? Or do we take bribes under the table? Perhaps I’ve said too much, but God will say more.