A true disciple of Christ travels light, right?
We’ve all heard messages about how Jesus sent 72 of his first disciples out in his name with instructions that included traveling with only the clothes on their backs. We have Paul’s impassioned description of what his life as a follower of Christ was like in 2 Corinthians 11 to underscore the fact that following Christ may be filled with challenge and difficulty, not comfort.
I ran across this passage a few days ago. I’ve never heard it preached in light of what it might mean to be a disciple, but I think it adds another facet to the way we might want to talk about following Christ faithfully:
Jesus spoke these words in the hours before his arrest, immediately after he told Peter that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed the next morning:
Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.
He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“That’s enough!” he replied. (Luke 22:35-38)
It’s obvious this doesn’t mean that we’re to amass a mountain of goodies, particularly in light of the whole fabric of Jesus’ teaching and ministry. This passage is certainly not a proof-text loophole. There is wisdom and freedom for each one of us as we submit our lifestyle to the Holy Spirit’s unmasking probe and then respond to what he may be telling us about our motives and his purposes for our particular stash of stuff.
However, Jesus’ words above from Luke 22 speak to those who are seeking to follow him faithfully. They belong in our discussions about discipleship. They do not obliterate the clear words Jesus spoke about the cost of following him. There is most certainly a time to shed possessions and travel light.
But there is also a time for us to prep for what he may be calling us to do next. We will be able to hear his direction most clearly as we acknowledge that possessions are meant to be his tools, not our personal saviors.
In this season of transition in my own life (our house on the market listed as a short sale, some shifting friend and family relationships), I am asking what it means to follow Jesus faithfully here and now. I don’t have a clear sense of what’s next – and I am not even sure I know what to ask of God about my future.
But I can ask him what I’ll need to follow him there.