We are Christians, therefore we are dedicated to Jesus—right? We look to Jesus for our salvation and trust in God that through Jesus we will be delivered from sin, Satan and death. Praise God for the deliverance we have through his death on the cross! May the cross be proclaimed from the lowest parts of the earth to the highest point in heaven!
But in our proclamation of the salvation to be found in the cross of Jesus, we have forgotten the teaching of Jesus about the cross. The cross is not just something that we look at, believe in and admire from a distance. Rather, the cross is something for us to carry. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
The gospel is not a “feel good” religion. The source of the gospel is Jesus himself, and he himself determines what the gospel consists of. And Jesus himself declared the gospel to be the accepting of suffering and economic sacrifice—not only for himself, but for everyone who wishes to receive his salvation.
If we desire to partake in the salvation of Jesus, the cross is not just an option—it is a requirement. To lose our lives, to deny ourselves is not just something for the super-powerful saint, but for the everyday disciple of Jesus. If we do not follow him, we do not have salvation.
One aspect of the cross of Jesus is to accept a lifestyle of what many call inadequate living or “poverty.” Economic sacrifice is not just an option. Rather, it is an essential requirement of the gospel. To accept the gospel, one must renounce ones own riches and possessions for the sake of the kingdom of God, for the sake of the needy.
What does Jesus say?
The poor of this world will receive God’s kingdom.
“Blessed are you disciples who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.” Luke 6:20
“God chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him.” James 2:5
No one can be a disciple unless he renounces all of his possessions.
“Let’s say that a king is going to meet another king in battle. The lesser king has ten thousand men and the greater king has twenty thousand. Wouldn’t the lesser king send a delegation to the greater king for terms of surrender—giving up out of his storehouse what he has? Even so, no one can be my disciple unless he renounces all of his possessions.” Luke 14:31-33.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. A man found it and hid it again. Then he sold everything he had in order to buy that field in order to gain joy.” Matthew 13:44
If you give what you have to the poor, you will have treasure in heaven.
“Do not treasure up treasure on earth, but treasure up treasure in heaven.” Matthew 6:19-20
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor and so make for yourselves a treasure in heaven.” Luke 12:33
He who renounces a normal life for the sake of Jesus will gain more than what he left and eternal life.
“There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age. He will receive houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms— along with persecutions. And in the age to come he will receive eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30
The one who renounces their possessions for the sake of the gospel will have their provisions met by God.
“Do not worry about your life— what you will eat or what you will drink. Do not worry about your body—what you will put on. Look at the birds of the air, that they do not farm, nor harvest nor store up food, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” Matthew 6:25-26
If we are to follow Jesus, we must renounce our riches and possessions and surrender them to those who have needs. If we do not do so, we do not have the salvation of Jesus. This is a result of our faith, not just a nice thing to do. This is fulfilling the word of Jesus. It is obeying the gospel.