Posted on in Blog by The Rev. David Marshall
Sometimes it can seem as though we are being asked to give up everything for our faith. When Jesus tells the rich ruler, “Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22), are we meant to sell everything also? Where will I live if I sell my home? How will I get to work if I sell my car?
There have certainly been famous examples of Christians who have gone “all in” for their faith. On Sunday we will celebrate St. Francis of Assisi who made an extreme vow of poverty, renouncing his considerable family wealth to rebuild the church and to devote himself to preaching the Gospel. As inspiring as Francis is, he also died at a young age, likely because of the rough conditions of his life and his renunciation of all comforts.
When we get stuck in an “all or nothing” mindset, passages such as Jesus’ instruction to the rich ruler, and people like Francis of Assisi become an obstacle to following Jesus instead of an inspiration. But faith is not all or nothing. There have always been wealthy and powerful followers of Jesus, just as there have always been people of true faith living in absolute poverty.
God calls to all of us, regardless of our circumstances, to live an abundant life of love and generosity. If we wait until we are able or willing to go “all in” we will miss the opportunity to experience the grace and joy of living in God’s kingdom now. We can experience, and more importantly, give the blessing of God’s love every day by simply offering kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and love. And I don’t mean that you have to do all of that in some grand gesture, either. That’s the “all or nothing” thinking again.
Beautiful examples of God’s kingdom here in our world happen when people make the effort to see one another. See the oppressed and the suffering around us. They are not hard to find. Even if you do not give money to a beggar, acknowledge them as a human being. Put yourself in places where you can get to know people you would not otherwise meet. That could be cooking in the kitchen on Tuesdays with the wonderful and eclectic Community Dinners team, or volunteering as a reading tutor for elementary school kids. We have each been given such a gift of love in Jesus, and our lives are our chance to pass that gift on to others.