There are in the Bible a certain number of verses, which have been dismissed by the majority of Christians throughout centuries as "outdated," "not relevant" or "not possible or practicable" anymore, because those only applied to Jesus and His immediate followers, and were only relevant for His day.
But since 1969, those voices have been proven as wrong, because that year a movement came into being that was so dedicated to the cause of Christ that they could do no other but prove that every bit of Jesus' instructions that He gave to His disciples of all ages were just as applicable today as ever. It's just that the majority of Christians wouldn't even be willing to consider to do so.
Jesus' Job for every Christian
In Mark Jesus gives His disciples (= followers of the teaching) His great commission, the task which every sincere Christian should feel called to fulfill: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Now, it's true that this commission has been obeyed and followed by a great number of men and women throughout the centuries. We call those men and women missionaries or evangelists. I wouldn't consider most preachers & church pastors to fall into that category, because they're not obeying the part about "going into all the world" in order to preach the gospel to every creature. All they do - as far as I can tell - is to preach to the same congregation one hour per week for a looong time. I wouldn't consider that doing a job.
How much would anyone expect to be paid for a job he only shows up one hour a week to do?
Of course, it couldn't be expected of poor pastors & preachers to have to be leaving their towns, homes and congregations in order to "preach the gospel to every creature in all the world," could it? That would mean, he would have to leave everything behind. He couldn't take his house, his family (if he isn't catholic and has one) along with him, his furniture, his car, his possessions... that's impossible.
Perhaps that's precisely why Jesus said in Luke 14:33, "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple." In other words, anyone who has not left behind everything he owns in order to fulfill Jesus' commission is not His disciple. He may claim to be one, he may pretend to be one, he may even be paid to be one, but by the definition of Jesus Himself - and I would consider that a higher authority than the Pope himself, he simply is not.
In Matthew Jesus expounds on that point a little more, when He says, "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Here he gives us a list of not only things He would expect us to forsake in order to follow Him and be His disciple, but even people, relatives, yes, even children He expects us to leave behind. And just to make sure we know He's really serious about it, in Matthew He says, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
In Matthew we find another of those "most unpopular and politically incorrect of Christ's teachings" where he denies a man who wants to follow Him his wish to first bury his father: "Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead."
In the light of the fact that Jesus' public ministry only lasted 3 years, it becomes plain that He didn't have an awful lot of time to spread His message, nor to wait for this man to bury his father (who perhaps hadn't even died yet.) But let's be honest: how many of us give similar excuses for not doing our job & following Christ's commission? What Jesus does, though, with His Words is disarm us, He takes any excuses from us: Let the dead bury the dead. If you're one of the live ones, one of those called and chosen to bring eternal life to a world of death and darkness, then do it, no matter what, but don't pretend you're something you're not!
God's Financial Plan
One of the most popular arguments why people shouldn't or couldn't possibly be expected to "live like that" nowadays, is "because it wouldn't work." Yes, it does! We see from the Book of Acts (in the Bible, right after the 4 Gospels) that it worked for the Early Christians, and since 1969, it has also worked for thousands of members of the Family International.
Some say that Karl Marx even stole his idea of Communism from the pattern after which Jesus' early followers lived, as described in Acts 2:44,45: "And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." Here we find something which Jesus had already said earlier in the gospels, to a certain rich young man, who wanted to find out what good thing he was still lacking, since he was already so good, but obviously still not happy. Jesus told him, "if you want a treasure in heaven, sell everything you have, give it to the poor, & follow Me." Unfortunately, the young man didn't have it within him to do that, but in Acts we read of at least 8000 people who did. Just in order to avoid any misunderstanding about the Early church living in a way any Communist could only dream about, the pattern is confirmed once again in Acts 4:32-35, and the seriousness about it clearly illustrated in the story of Ananias & Sapphira following.
There have been other true, sincere and fully dedicated followers of Christ throughout the centuries who got the point that it was part of true Christianity to give up physical possessions in order to serve Christ, such as St.Francis of Assissi, who stripped completely bare before the Bishop and the entire city to illustrate what he considered to be a true follower of Christ, contrary to the common concept of "Christianity" of his day.
After all, Jesus had made it quite clear in His sermon of the mount, where He said in Matthew 6:24,25 "Ye cannot serve God and mammon (wealth). Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" A few verses later He explains that if we just make God's affairs our priority, then He would doubtlessly care for our needs (see verse 33).
Paul, in his epistles to the Romans, chapter 9, verse 14 makes it clear that Preaching the gospel was not only the job every follower of Christ was given to do, but that this job would also pay for itself: "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
The life-style of the Family International has schown for nearly 40 years that "living of the gospel" and living communally, the way the Early Christians did, is quite possible, even in this day and age.
Unfortunately, whenever there has been someone exposing the hypocrisy of phoney believers or religionists by their sincerity, it has evoked jealousy and brought the wrath of the hypocrites upon the true believers, from Cain & Abel over Jesus and the Pharisees until today. After all, what was written for the believers of the past must also be valid for those of today, even if it's something as shocking as 2.Timothy 3:12: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
In other words, any group of Christians not suffering persecution must not be doing the job! Jesus confirms this in His sermont of the mount, which was actually not - as traditionally shown in the movies - given to a large multitude of people, but only to His disciples (see Mt.5:1), where He says in Matthew 5:10-12, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Luke even goes as far as quoting Jesus in his version of the same sermon as having said, "Woe when all men speak well of you." In other words, popularity is not really a proof of being on the job for God.
Hot or Cold?
Popular theories were not really Jesus' thing. Whenever something is really popular, you can almost be sure there's something fishy aboout it. Bestseller-Writer Dan Brown has the audacoty to base his theory that Jesus was married on the ridiculously weak argument that it was the "proper thing to do" for a Jewish man of Jesus' times to be married. He obviously missed the entire point about Jesus, His message, His life & purpose, and what He as all about.
Jesus wasn't into doing the proper thing. Instead of starting His own little family like everybody else, He might have been accused of breaking up other people's families. We know for certain from the Gospels that Peter was married, so there's one family Jesus undoubtedly "broke up." And we know of at least 11 other sons whom He "stole" from their families, as some might put it, one of which tragically took his own life.
But it's not just my own interpretation of Jesus' life-style, but His own Words that "outed" Him as an incorrigibly controversial iconoclast and non-conformist. In a Old Testament prophecy about Jesus, He is called the "Prince of Peace," and in John's Gospel Jesus tells us that He would give His disciples His peace, but He was not talking about any kind of peaceful co-existence with the evils of this world, which He makes quite plain in Matthew 10:34,35: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law."
In later passages of the Bible we find more references to the sword Jesus brought, the sword of His Word, which would determine between right and wrong and make manifest our true motivations (see Hebrews 4:12), and Paul lists further parts of our spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:10-18, which we need as "soldiers for Christ" to fight our "spiritual warfare."
This reminds us of the "Lord of Hosts," one of the names for God in the Old Testament, and we find Him again in Revelation 19:14, namely Jesus, leading the armies of heaven in the Battle of Armaggeddon, in which He will destroy the Antichrist with the sword of His mouth. So, Jesus, unlike common perception of Him, is not necessarily a pacifist. He's a radical, white-hot Revolutionary and fighter for the truth against the flood of lies we encounter in our System. The question is whether we'll put ouselves on His side and allow Him to destroy our on false concepts or not. Often we try to retain a little comfortable piece of the lie in our life-style, along with the truth we find in the gospel, but this type of compromise is vehemently condemned by Him.
In Revelation 3:15,15 we find Him dealing with the compromising
What is Truth?
In the gospels we find Jesus warning us repeatedly of "the leaven of the Scribes & Pharisees," apparently parts of their doctrine that are not according to the truth as He perceived it. Unfortunately, that kind of "leaven" or compromise has crept into the Christian church from its beginnings.
One of the most blatant violations of the new, free and radical life of Early Christianity as the world had seen it for the first 2 centuries (not without having the church pay the price of incessant persecution and thousands of martyrs), was obviously committed when the Christian faith was finally officially embraced by the Roman government in the 3rd century, and formerly Pagan temples were converted to Christian "churches."
The word church originally comes from the Greek "Ecclesia," meaning, "the called out ones," whereas from now on, a "church" was nothing more than what it means to most of us today: a building. In one of the most fiery sermons the world ever heard, resulting in its author's immediate death as a martyr by the hands of his audience, Stephen said, "Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts ).
The house God wants to build is one of living stones, as Paul confirms (1.Cor.3:16), consisting of His followers. Yet instead, we are the ones who try to pack Him up inside some kind of a building, as if we were able to put Him in a box. We want to make God our possession, instead of allowing ourselves to be His possessions and do with us what He likes. Our job is to go into all the world and preach His gospel, not to wait inside some building for anyone to come in who might want to be preached at!
There are other false doctrines which have crept into the churches.
(First Published May 2006)
(See also for a more comprehensive list of Verses from the New Testament Most Christians Choose to Ignore:)