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Topic: Peer Pressure (07/05/04)
TITLE: The End of the Story
By Melanie Kerr
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I've come about the book of stories about Jesus. I need to see the guy that wrote it. Goes by the name of Luke? What do you mean, he is in a prison in Rome? Oh, just visiting? Well, that's a relief.
I've come to set the record straight on that story about Joseph. Nooo! Not the Joseph at the start of the story. The other Joseph - later on in the book. The rich man? The guy that walked away sad because he couldn't give up his riches to follow Jesus? No names were mentioned. Was that a lawyer thing? No names, no messy court case?
Well, let me introduce myself. I am that Joseph. The rich guy. It's kind of obvious that I don't look rich and that is the problem about the story. Your man Luke didn't check out all the details, did he? I am not saying that he got the story wrong, just that he didn't get the whole story. His story ends with me walking away sad and that's not how it ends. That is just what happens in the middle.
If I tell you how it ends, will you make sure he makes the changes? Right now I'm going down in history as a guy in the story of Jesus that walks away sad and that's not the truth.
I left Jesus and, as the story goes, I was sad. Jesus left some cloud hanging over my head.
When I got home there was a reception committee. A man like me, let's just say my meeting with Jesus was noted. The family were summoned.
My cousin Nate started on me, "You're not taking that man seriously are you, Joey? To sell everything you own and give to the poor? He was just warning you not to be so selfish with all your possessions. He didn't mean for you to literally do it."
And then there was Ruth. She didn't say anything, but I could read her gaze. Ruth and me, we'd been going out. We weren't engaged or nothing. There was an understanding. Her family and mine go back some. I could hear her voice in my head, "What about me, Joe? What about the kids? What will we live on after you sell everything?"
Then there was Barney,second cousin on my mother's side.
"Joey, " he says to me, "Listen up, kid, it's good you wanting to help the poor. But let's get real. If you sell everything, think of all the people that would lose out. The vineyard workers - out of a job! The lads on the fishing fleet - grounded!. Think of all the people that you employ right now. It's not just your life. If you choose to live a life of poverty, you are choosing for them too. Who do you think will give them jobs? You can do so much more good if you keep your money and, like Nate says, use it wisely."
Then Jonah, the head of the family, put in his two shekels worth, "Who needs another bum on the street? You would just be another drain on someone else's sense of charity. Besides, riches are a sign of blessing from God. If you go around poor, everyone is going to think that God doesn't like you or something. They won't know that some prophet of God told you to sell your possessions."
They were piling on the pressure. What they said made complete sense and I have to admit I caved in for a while
But it was my heart that Jesus had spoken to. He read me like a book that day. It wasn't really about money at all. It was about trust. You get to trust your money to get you through the hard times. You stop leaning on God.
So I did what Jesus asked me to. Not right away. It took a couple of years to sink in, but it was what I wanted to do and I did it. I sold the lot and walked away.
I work with a church in Caesarea Philippi now.
That's how the story ends. You will get that guy Luke to change it in the book, right?