A couple of weeks ago, I had someone ask me this question. He is a pretty new believer and has been surprised that there are scriptures that record that Jesus, for example, commanded us to go and make disciples. He was saying that it seemed to him that Jesus is trying to tell him that he needs to not work, but instead focus his time solely on making disciples. So his question to me ultimately was, “What does Jesus want from me?”
I told him that I would be happy to show him, but I wasn’t sure, based on his question, that he would like the answer. We read a very short parable, which were part of a longer set of parables:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
I simply asked his question back to him: “What does Jesus want from you?” At first, he didn’t quite understand what I meant, which I thought was a little surprising, so we went through it one step at a time.
So what is the ultimate answer? I think Jesus teaches here that the answer is everything. Jesus expects us to give up everything to follow him.
So his next question was similar to the first: So what does that mean? I need to sell everything I own, and then I will be following Jesus? (…to be clear, he doesn’t own much!) I simply told him that I can’t answer that question for him. Instead, he needs to ask God what it means for him. Maybe for some people it does mean that they literally need to sell everything because those things are what stand between them and God. But for him, it may be something else. Maybe for him it is the singular desire to just have a job. Does that stand between he and God and obstruct his relationship? Possibly.
A little later, Jesus taught his disciples that if they want to be his disciple, they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. Obviously, this is no small statement. The cross was, and continues to be, a symbol of torture and death. Quite possibly one of the least humane and most excruciating ways to die that men have ever come up with. And yet Jesus says that we need to willingly grab onto it if we want to be his disciple. In fact, he goes on to say that if we want to save our life, we have to willingly give it up. All of the things that I want to do, that I want to accomplish, to have in this life – these are the things that I think Jesus is saying that he wants us to give up so that we can have a life in him, so that we can have a life that follows him.
I like that my friend is asking these kinds of questions. It suggests to me that God is speaking to him through his Spirit. My guess is that my friend actually knows the answer of how to apply it to his life. I’m guessing he knows what it means to sell everything to have the treasure of the Kingdom. Of course, the choice now is whether or not to do it, the same choice that each of us have as well.