Do We Need To Sell Our Stuff In Order To Follow Jesus?


What do you think about the many verses that compel believers to give up their possessions to follow Jesus, especially the actions of the disciples?


In the beginning portion of Mark Jesus calls his first disciples to leave their fishing to follow him.  We need to be careful to notice that the disciples did not leave their possessions for the purpose of notching up good deeds or being obedient.  They simply left their fishing business to practically follow 'the call' of being a disciple.  The leaving of their possessions was a result of following Jesus.  In other words, one needs to be cautious not to hyper-spiritualize this leaving of stuff.  

Secondly, the four apostles did not rid themselves of everything.  After being called by Jesus in the early portion of Mark we see that they went to the home of Simon and Andrew..  Furthermore, in the Gospels we see many references of the disciples and Jesus traveling by boat.  I think it is safe to conclude that the boat belonged to the disciples, otherwise where did the boat come from?  The idea that the disciples retained a boat is further strengthened in John 21:1-3 when we see the disciples fishing again after the crucifixion.

Thirdly, in Mark 10:28-30 Peter says, "We have left everything to follow you."  Notice that he did not say, "We have sold everything."  Now, they may have sold some property, but we need to be careful not exaggerate the story.  

Fourthly, we need to be careful that we don't make the precedent that one must sell everything in order to be a 'true' follower of Christ.  One must keep in mind the doctrine of stewardship... the doctrine that teaches the using, planning and managing of resources for the furthering of the Gospel.  Furthermore, when we read on into other NT books, like Acts, we need to read it descriptively rather than prescriptively.  In other words, is Acts prescribing actions to us or describing actions to us?  

In summary, do we need to sell everything in order to follow Jesus?  This is putting the cart before the horse.  Listen to the differences: "I am going to sell my stuff to follow Jesus." VS. "I am following Jesus which results in me giving up stuff!"  Focusing on what we are giving up puts the attention back on mankind and our actions and can lead to legalism.  Rather, I suggest that we just focus on Jesus and if we end up giving up stuff as a result, well then... so be it!