Tuesday, August 04, 2009



Jesus declares the third prerequisite to be one of His disciples-the requirement of possessions. Note the progression of the three requirements Jesus is looking for. You must make Jesus your highest priority, then you must continue to make Him your priority no matter what-perseverance, and then all you have must be given up to Jesus for His use. With these three requirements in place Jesus says you are now eligible to be His disciple.

This final requirement Jesus presents may be the toughest of all. Before He actually presents it, Jesus offers two illustrations that strongly urge you to count the cost of what it means to follow Jesus. The first has to do with the building of a tower: "If any of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn't he first sit down and work out the cost of it to see if he can afford to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and found himself unable to complete the building, everyone who sees it will begin to jeer at him, saying, 'This is the man who started to build a tower but couldn't finish it!' (Luke 14:28-30)

Then, Jesus illustrates counting the cost with a king going off to war against another king: "Or, suppose there is a king who is going to war with another king, doesn't he sit down first and consider whether he can engage the twenty thousand of the other king with his own ten thousand? And if he decides he can't, then while the other king is still a long way off, he sends messengers to him to ask for conditions of peace." (Luke 14:31-32)

Then Jesus reveals His third requirement: "So it is with you; only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple." (Luke 14:33) Many of your translations say something like this: "In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples." Naturally, the wording "give up everything" is the operative phrase here. What does it mean to give up everything? I like the first translation I read best: "Say goodbye to all of your possessions." That says it well! The Greek word here means to "take leave" or "renounce" your possessions.

We briefly referred to this in one of the myths about Jesus. Jesus is not saying that you are to give over all your possessions, but to give them up. I see this as renouncing the ownership of all you have. You really don't own what you have. You are a manager or steward of what God has allowed you to collect. Jesus wants you to realize this and be willing to give up your personal ownership of all you have for Jesus and the Kingdom. Jesus wants you to hold on to your stuff, but hold it loosely and be ready to share generously as it is needed.

It's even more than this. You are not just to give up everything you have, but all you are as well-your very existence. This is inherent in the word used for possessions. He owns it all-you and all of your stuff! It's learning to wear the cloak of materialism loosely and to live your life as one who is owned and directed by Jesus. So, make Jesus your highest priority over all relationships, make Him your priority no matter what and renounce the ownership of all you are and have. These are the requirements of being a disciple of Jesus.

The spirit of these discipleship requirements is all about surrender-abandoning all competing relationships and securities for Jesus and the Kingdom. There are many examples of surrender with both good and bad results. Peter, James and John left their fishing business to follow Jesus full-time. Levi left his position at the local tax collections office. Zacchaeus may not have left his vocation, but did give half his fortune to the poor. Then there is the rich young ruler who was unwilling to renounce his wealth and follow Jesus. He walked away with great sadness. Paul didn't leave his profession of making tents, but was able to take it with him wherever he went.

Diana and I are devoting ourselves to practicing these three very tough requirements of Jesus. What's interesting is that the more closely you follow alongside Jesus the easier it is to live as a disciple. Jesus has made it possible for us to have the privilege of being released by friends who underwrite us financially so that we are free to work full-time at being disciples and making disciples. Living like this has been a graduate school experience of how to walk with Jesus, walk with others and to wait on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities. Being a disciple of Jesus is one of the most amazing adventures ever. Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus? What's holding you back?