Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The other night I was speaking to someone about their passion in life, what it was they truly wanted to do if the right doors would open up. They expressed their desire to work with children in the missions realm so I had to ask, "so why are you not doing that," a question I ask myself quite often, to be honest. It came down to a very simple answer about the need for a job and money. I felt an affinity with her plight as I too have the same answer, at least for now.
In Matthew 21 Yeshua is telling a wealthy man that he could be perfect if he would sell all he had, gave it to the poor, and then followed him. On the surface, this story has been used by preachers for years as a clearly defined example of Jesus denouncing greed and being rich. While I am not here to have a theological discourse about the validity of that supposition, I do wish to explore the scope of this further.

Society is a weird thing. We have formulated for ourselves a defined path which one must embark on in order to achieve nominal success. When things started out they were much simpler. We provided food for ourselves by killing things that had meat, we built shelter from crude material to stay warm and protect us from the elements, and we fiercely guarded that which was ours: our family. Over time we began to become more complex and understand things further. Where we once toyed with bone and rock, we now were crafting microchips and lasers. In order to understand these things and harness them in such a way as to advance our world we had to build institutions of higher learning so that we could essentially further perpetuate the cycle of man's understanding and then subsequent development of both how we understand ourselves as well as the sciences.

In exploring every last nook and cranny of the physical world we began to see how things were broken down, to their very most basic, atomic level. We then believed that God simply must not exist because we had figured out how things work and, if we understand how it works, then we must be as smart as God and, therefore, he cannot be bigger, wiser and more powerful than us. Humanism began to be a bigger, more widespread and prevalent staple of our culture. And, with humanism came the desire to make ourselves great, to be a not just a people, but an individual person of extreme success and stature, a god among men: someone revered and admired head& shoulders above others.

This is where I think we all went wrong. Power. Immeasurable and obtainable power. It existed because we had created the capacity within which it could exist. We blew up the bubble and then told other people they had the power to fill it with their destinies. And when the bubble got full, man had the innate proclivity to want more, so he found ways to make the capacity bigger, his ceiling higher, limitless if possible. And now, our measure of power is shown to others in the things we have. What we drive, what we wear, what we live in, what we own can tell other people that we are important or well off, that we have blown our balloon up and managed to fit bigger and better things inside. Since human tendency is to want to achieve not just the success of others but to surpass it, we set our bar and standards, and life becomes a race to get the most toys. But there is a saying: he who dies with the most toys still dies.

When Jesus got angry at the men selling goods in the church I do not think he meant to set forth a standard that espoused that the Church should be precluded from selling coffee or books within its walls. Instead, I believe he found men who were using the church as a means of personal gain and not respecting it for what it was: an outreach and center for His community. Instead, they were using what was holy for nothing other than personal gain and accumulation. When the wealthy man came to Jesus and He told him how to be perfect, He was giving the man a deeper lesson than to eschew money: He was telling the man he had to start living outside of societal conditions.

The wealthy man had bought into a system, most likely that of marketplace buying and selling that allowed him to amass a fortune. This was his life, and the fact that he had money meant he probably spent most of his life doing business and being business-minded. With success comes more restrictions than one would usually expect. Even the richest of men are in constant search for extra time to do the things they want to do. Trust me ... I know, I work for some of them.

And, so there are many people like me and the person I mentioned at the beginning who find ourselves torn... having the desires of our hearts sometimes trumped by the inevitable and inescapable dependence on the established workforce to earn income and provide for ourselves. In our strive for power, for things, for keeping up with societal constraints and expectations, I believe we as humanity have only furthered the gap between ourselves and God. Getting back to Him and His heart sometimes seems improbable or downright impossible when I truly think about how ineffective I can be when I am tethered to a work schedule.

When I ask myself how I can "go and disciple" or " ... leave [my] things and follow ... ," I still do not know what that looks like (beyond the daydreams I have had and the prayers I have spoken or thought). I do not have all the answers, I cannot tell humanity what the complicated and involved answer to it all is, I cannot even tell myself. I only know it starts out with one thing: Jesus. The desires of our hearts are upon His own and if you are feeling stuck or hindered then know that He wants our desires to be fulfilled. Our response to his invitation to fulfilled desires, though, is faith. Faith that requires the ability and trust to let go of the societal safety and status we cling to and give way for only His will to be done.

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