How many of us can remember a time when a preacher was heard to exhort the congregation to sell all their possessions and give to the poor (Luke 12: 32 – 40)? When, for that matter, have I ever looked at the people in front of me and proclaimed, Thus says the Lord, sell all you have and give?! It is difficult enough to think of the church as an institution selling all it has but it seems almost impossible to consider it in personal terms.
But why should this be the case? Is this command any less clear than that of the evangelical foundation about needing to ‘be born again’? If one is allowed as the foundation of evangelical belief, perhaps this should be promoted as the foundation of evangelical practice.
Evangelical poverty, or becoming poor for the sake of the gospel, is not a message heard much in these parts – perhaps to the relief of many of us! Yet evangelical poverty has a long history and tradition within the faith. While today, it could be suggested, there appears to be a growing realisation of its vocation being recovered, through developments such as Fresh Expressions and Prayer 24/7. There is also New Monasticism with its identified marks of the church , including commitment to the abandoned, socio-economic justice, hospitality, peace-making, environment and formation in the way of Christ
Maybe it also needs to be noted that the issue may not be so much to do with the possessions in themselves but
- our attitude to them, and, particularly, to those without them
- how they have been gained
- how they are held on to
- what they prevent from happening
- how life is viewed without them; and,
- how generous they allow us to be
Or, maybe I’m just looking for a rationalisation as a way out.
So here we are, sitting in front of Jesus, and he looks at us with love and compassion and simply says…
Sell all you have, and give to the poor, for your Father has given you the kingdom!
How does my heart respond?
Lord, have mercy…