blunt essays with sharp points
Jul 28, 2000 5:44 PM–SCRVPVLVS has long been aware of the widening chasm between the teachings of Jesus and contemporary Christian beliefs and behavior. This article is the second in a series, addressed only to Christians, pointing out the gaps and calling for a return to living as Jesus taught.
Did Jesus teach paupery?
In the last issue, Christian Meditations: Worldly Pursuits taught that Christians should detach themselves from career advancement, pleasure and longevity, family and possessions. They should keep Gods commands, and devote themselves to prayer, for the kingdom of God is near.
A Christian friend objected, I dont think we all are to sell everything and give to the poor. Im not saying there arent disciples who need to do that. Im just not convinced that every follower of Jesus needs to do it. I just dont think God wants us to pauperize ourselves.
Read and meditate on the words of Jesus.
your heart cannot serve God if you worry, store up wealth, or desire things
18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mark 4
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lords feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, Lord, dont you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! 41 Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. Luke 10
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Mark 10
24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6
34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12
to follow Jesus to the Kingdom of God, you must give up everything you have and not look back
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sistersyes, even his own lifehe cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. 31 Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14This command was given to all the people who were following Jesus.
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, I will follow you wherever you go. 58 Jesus replied, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. 59 He said to another man, Follow me. But the man replied, Lord, first let me go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God. 61 Still another said, I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family. 62 Jesus replied, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. Luke 9
sell your possessions and give to the poor and those who ask
21 If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. Matt 19This command was given to a man who asked what he needed to do to follow Jesus. My friend argues this was a special command to this one man. But it is no different than the command given to any follower of Jesus, as will be seen. 46 Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? Luke 46
9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Luke 16
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a years wages and the money given to the poor. And they rebuked her harshly. Mark 14The reason I cite this story is that it describes the daily life of Jesus and his followers. In this situation they show that they knew and routinely practiced the command to sell all riches and give to the poor. (The story goes on to teach that it was proper for the woman to anoint him for burial instead of giving away the perfume. The exception is understood by remembering that the first and greatest commandment is: God is one, love him with all your power; and, the second commandment is: love your neighbor as yourself.)
To a Christian who cites this or any exception to justify the accumulation of personal wealth, I give Jesus words to the Pharisees and teachers of the law:6 He replied, Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. 9 And he said to them: You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. 11 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban (that is, a gift devoted to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that. Mark 7
42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matt 5
29 If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Luke 6
dont worry for your life, or that this will leave you hungry, thirsty and naked
25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matt 6Remember, your heart cannot serve God if you worry. Let God provide; pray as Jesus taught you to pray:11 Give us today our daily bread. Matt 6
3 Give us each day our daily bread. Luke 11
23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. Mark 2As with the story of the perfume, I cite this story because it contains details of the daily life of Jesus and his followers. It shows that they lived as paupers, sustained by the Jewish laws of poverty:9 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God. Lev 19
22 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God. Lev 23
19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. Deut 24
24 If you enter your neighbors vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket. 25 If you enter your neighbors grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain. Deut 23
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, This is a remote place, and its already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food. 16 Jesus replied, They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat. 17 We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish, they answered. 18 Bring them here to me, he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matt 14
as you lack now, so will you be rewarded in the kingdom of God
20 Looking at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. Luke 6
32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6
whoever has wealth and honor now, that is his full reward, and he has none in the Kingdom of God; he will be destroyed
25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. Luke 6
2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. Matt 6
46 Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. Luke 6
Remember: do not worry, store up wealth, or desire things. To follow Jesus to the kingdom of God, you must give up your life and not look back. Sell your possessions and give to the poor and those who ask. Dont worry for your life, or that this will leave you hungry, thirsty and naked (remember, your heart cannot serve God if you worry); God will provide each day. As you lack now, so will you be rewarded in the kingdom of God. Whoever has wealth and honor now, that is his full reward, and he has none in the Kingdom of God; he will be destroyed.
it is your giving by which you will be judged
31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. 37 Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? 40 The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. 41 Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. 44 They also will answer, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? 45 He will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. 46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matt 25
11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 2 Thes 1
Scripture quoted by permission from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes they fool you by walking upright.
What part of “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” don’t you understand?
Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. —Terry Pratchett
Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig. —Robert Heinlein
Do not ask why the past was better than the present, for this is not a question prompted by wisdom. —Ecclesiastes 7:10
Power lines abruptly stopped causing cancer in 1997 after the U.S. National Cancer Institute conducted a better study. —Robert Parks
Встретимся под столом! (Vstretimsja pod stolom: To meeting you under the table!)
The more you cry, the less you’ll pee.
Relish the love of a good woman.
It’ll never get better if you keep picking at it. —advice from Judge “Maximum” Bob Gibbs