Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Jesus With The Poor

Jesus with the poor is the source of the greatest spiritual revelation of the meaning of a scripture given to me. In Luke 12:33 Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor."

You might immediately think this is the story of the rich young ruler, but it is not. If you go back to verse 22, you will see Jesus is addressing His disciples.

If He is addressing His disciples and I want to be a disciple then He is addressing me. So I began to think, what do I possess? I own a coat, a car, my kid's clothes, etc. These are things we need. Renting them is not an option.

On the surface this looks like a stupid statement, but the Jesus I know does not make stupid statements. There must be more to this than I am seeing.

I began to read commentaries and really try to think this through, but nothing could resolve this statement into a logical, meaningful message.

I ran across the story of Tolstoy, who was a wealthy Russian who converted to Christianity and sold all his stuff and gave it to the poor. After a short while the poor had consumed everything and all was gone. Also, the employees of his old farm were all miserable because the new owners were not as benevolent as Tolstoy.

I did not find meaning, I found proof! This is a stupid statement!

Jesus with the poor.

So I yelled at the Holy Spirit. He is supposed to be my teacher and I needed teaching. Immediately this thought came into my mind (not words in my ears, but a thought in my head), "God owns everything, we merely manage."

Putting these two thoughts together brings us a new question. If I am living as if God owns everything and I merely manage, then what is it I own that I need to sell? Nothing!

And if I am not living this way, then what is my instruction?

Sell what you think you own, because it has become an idol to you.

What do I do with the proceeds of the sale?

Give it away, so that you don't get tempted to buy something else that you think you own and fall back into the same idolatrous trap.

It is all about ownership. Who is in charge? Looking at the following verse Jesus says, "by doing this we will lay up treasure in Heaven." This is not a one for one exchange where the people who give the most on earth will get the most in Heaven. It is an attitude of how to live, which is equally available and equally beneficial to us all.

Jesus with the poor has educated me on the correct attitude toward giving.