What does it mean to follow the King? For Yeshua’s first followers, it meant leaving family, jobs, security and comfort in order to build up the Kingdom of YHVH. Yeshua Himself gave up everything for the sake of the kingdom. What does building up the kingdom require of us?
Recently I wrestled with the challenge posed to all of us in Mark 10:17-27. The rich young ruler wants to know what is required for eternal life. Yeshua responds that he is to keep the commandments. The young man presses on to see if there is anything else required. Yeshua tells him that he lacks one thing: to sell all that he has, give to the poor, and follow Yeshua.
All my life, I have been content with trying to keep the commandments, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing miserably. I have ignored the rest of the story of the rich young man. I didn’t even consider that I could be called to relinquish all my material goods, let alone ties to family and friends.
In the documentary, The Father of Lights, there is a story of a young couple who had much wealth. When the Holy Spirit challenged them, the husband gave up his lucrative career, they relinquished their material wealth and took their young children to China. At first, they lived in squalor and the young mother struggled mightily with her decision. What was she doing to her children? Was she a responsible parent? Today, the couple runs an orphanage for handicapped children in a beautiful facility they call home. They are building up the kingdom, one abandoned child at a time.
Daily Peter and I dedicate our house and all our belongings to YHVH to be used for His glory. Do we realize what we are saying? If YHVH tells us to give up everything, will we obey His command? During a recent prayer session with YHVH, the Holy Spirit challenged me as I was once again dedicating everything to YHVH. Would I be willing to relinquish my possessions for the sake of the kingdom? The words have long been on my lips, but were they in my heart?
I struggled for over two hours during that session. For well over a decade, I had lived in poverty. As I learned to trust and obey YHVH more, I moved out of poverty into abundant material blessing. It was a long, tough process. Now that I am nearing retirement age, I relish this comfort and security. I tried to reason that perhaps it wasn’t necessary to be so radical. Wouldn’t it be irresponsible to become potential burdens on society, especially at our age? What sense does it make to give away our security? Deep down I knew that my logic could not stand up to the command, “sell all that you have, give to the poor, and come follow Me” challenged me. Yet, I could not bring my heart to accept the truth. Like the rich young man, I walked away from that session saddened because I too was not able to give it all up.
A few minutes later I received an email from a friend reporting that ISIS had challenged a group of chidlren in Iraq to relinquish Yeshua and convert to Islam. Every child refused to give up Yeshua and every child was beheaded for his or her faith. I was humbled to the dust. These youngsters gave up their lives for their faith without hesitation while I balked over material goods. May I soon acquire their level of maturity. Yeshua’s words challenge each of us. What is our response?