Abandon /e-ban-den/ n to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly.
Reckless Abandon /re-kles e-ban-den/ to give oneself unrestrainedly to the cause of Jesus and the promotion of his kingdom without concern for danger and the consequences of that action.
The idea of reckless abandon for the sake of Jesus and the kingdom is not a new one. In Luke 14, when thronged by a multitude of curious, would-be-but-still-largely-uncommitted followers, Jesus turned and frankly declared: “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (v. 33).
These words are among the most radical of all of Jesus’ radical sayings. The finality and scope of Jesus’ ultimatum takes our breath away. It sounds so… well… reckless. “Renounce” is such a strong word… like “abandon.” And “all?” “Renounce all?” Really? This sounds so unrealistic to people who are ever accustomed to emasculating Jesus’ hard sayings. Such reckless demands do not jive well with the American Dream- even the “Christianized version.” Can Jesus really be asking us to recklessly abandon all that we have to be his disciples?
Everyone seems to agree Jesus’ words apply to those called to be missionaries. Yet, how do Jesus’ words apply to Christians who have not be called to the mission field? At To Every Tribe, we are fond of saying all believers are either goers, senders, or disobedient. So, what about the “senders” among us? Are Jesus’ words of self-denial and renunciation any less applicable to “senders” than they are to “goers?”
The answer must certainly be, “NO!” The difference between “goers” and “senders” is not the difference between sacrificing and not sacrificing. Nor is it the difference between being recklessly abandoned and being cautiously calculated. Those are the differences between “goers” and “disobedient.” The difference between “goers” and “senders” is purely functional. One carries the gospel to foreign lands while the other stays at home and facilitates that going. Both sacrifice. Both renounce all to follow Jesus. Both take up their cross. Both die to themselves. Both live lives of reckless abandon for Jesus.
So, what does a recklessly abandoned sender look like? When Jesus says we must renounce all we have, he must, at the very least, mean we must renounce all personal claim to our money and material possessions. Our things, our money, our assets are not ours. Renouncing all we possess means we bring it all to Jesus and lay it at his feet. We surrender it all to him. We cease to view it as a means of making our lives more comfortable or secure. This means our assets are no longer personal assets, but kingdom assets. They are gospel assets. Jesus does not give us money so we can build our own personal kingdom. He graciously calls us into his kingdom and, then, gives us material resources for the advance of that kingdom- his kingdom, not our kingdom.
This is surely what Jesus meant in Matthew 6 when he said “seek first the kingdom of God” in the context of speaking about money and material goods. People who are not citizens of Jesus’ kingdom lay up treasures on earth. They work, toil, and sweat to build around themselves a cushion of financial protection and stability. They labor to amass property and possessions to improve the status and comfort of their own kingdom. They do so because their money is where their heart is. It is there treasure, Jesus says.
However, followers of Jesus have forsaken the kingdom of personal enrichment and have entered the kingdom of God. They have a new King and, therefore, renounce their former dogged pursuit of material accumulation because they cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
This transfer of kingdoms results in a radical re-evaluation of the role money plays in the lives of kingdom citizens. They “do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15). They are no longer driven by “the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions” (v. 16). They are freed from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The things they once considered to be their “gains”- their personal assets- are now counted as loss for the sake of Jesus (Philippians 3:7). They seek his kingdom first, and begin to accumulate wealth in heaven (Matthew 6:33). They realize the quality, success, and value of their life does not consist in abundance of their possessions (Luke 12:15). Their expectations and desires for this life change. Since their treasure is in heaven, they are no longer looking for their kingdom to come in this life. They realize the only material things Jesus has promised us in this life are food and clothing (Matthew 6:25-34), and, with those two things alone, they are content (1 Timothy 6:8). They are happy with their allotted “daily bread” and nothing more (Matthew 6:11). They no longer obsess about feeding and clothing themselves because, as citizens of Jesus’ kingdom, they understand “life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Matthew 6:25). Furthermore, they know their heavenly father knows their needs and will provide (Matthew 6:32). He promises to never leave or forsake them so they become increasingly detached from money (Hebrews 13:5).
*Editor’s Note: This was originally printed in the Fall 2010 issue of TET magazine. Check out Part 2 coming soon!