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Do Not Let Materialism Overtake Spirituality
By Rev. Dr. Michael H. Koplitz

What are you willing to give up?

By Rev. Dr. Michael H. Koplitz

34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 “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. 36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

 

This narrative appears on the surface to have two separate components. Indeed, there is only one topic. That topic has to do with a person’s soul when the time of judgment occurs.

 

In Jesus’ day, and very much in today’s world, people are not concerned about the coming judgment as they continue through the days of their lives. If people today would stay focused on the future judgment that encourages them to repent, then this world’s evil would dry up and come to an end. Alas, that is not happening.

 

Sins committed today, for which we do NOT repent, will harm a person in the future. The Zohar tells us that a stain is placed on our souls when we sin; the soul is the innermost part of our being. However, Jesus tells us how to remove that stain. Picking up your cross can be interpreted as a call to repentance, which is a commitment to change so the sin will disappear. Picking up your cross is also a pledge that the soul’s spiritual life is far more critical than the physical body that houses the soul. Giving up items in the material world is what Jesus tells us to give up. The desires of the flesh, which wants material things, causes people to sin.

 

Jesus spoke about the need to do what is right by the LORD's instruction that can save the soul. According to Jesus, the soul is more important to save than the body. To be a disciple of Jesus means to give up the material world and possibly even one’s life.

 

In Jesus’ day, new disciples did give up material and physical things. For example, anyone who worked for the Roman government would lose their job when becoming a disciple of Jesus. Also, many of the first Christians were killed for joining the faith. Today the cost in many countries is not very high. In those countries, the number of disciples of Jesus is shrinking. However, in countries where the risk is high, the number of disciples is growing. What are you willing to give up for Jesus?

There are narratives about the new disciples placing their wealth at the apostles’ feet in the book of Acts. This wealth was then used to help the new community of believers to thrive. There is also the story of the husband and wife who decided not to place everything at the apostles’ feet and they had to bear the consequences. If you are not ready to surrender something for Jesus' love and grace, you are not prepared to be a disciple.

 

There are plenty of people in this world who claim to be disciples of Christ, but that is in name only. These people do not try to imitate the ways of Jesus. Lying is one of the sins that Jesus addresses, and it is better to do nothing for Jesus than to lie about doing it.  

 

To live a life that nourishes the soul means that one has to relinquish treasures of the material world. To worship an item or person is to place them before God on your list of loved ones, and loving “things” is idolatry. Since you now know about idolatry, repentance, and Jesus’ gift, I ask you again, “What are you willing to give up?”

There are plenty of people in this world who claim to be disciples of Christ, but that is in name only. These people do not try to imitate the ways of Jesus. Lying is one of the sins that Jesus addresses, and it is better to do nothing for Jesus than to lie about doing it.

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Rev. Dr. Michael H. Koplitz

Pastor Michael H. Koplitz, D.Min., Ph.D. is an ordained minister, author, teacher, and webmaster at BibleInteract. He currently lives in York Pennsylvania with his wife, Sandy, where he has been a pastor at the United Methodist Church for over 18 years.


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