Study Guide: How to get Blessed with More Houses

Sunday April 5, 2009 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus used the law to show us that we can’t get to heaven on the basis of our own good deeds. Once we accept this, we can enjoy the freedom to live radically and generously in the community that is the family of God.

Extended Summary:

Today’s message focused on two themes that emerge from the conversation between the rich ruler and Jesus in Luke 18:18-30. The first theme has to do with the way Jesus uses the law to drive this man to despair so that he can see that it is by grace alone that salvation is found. The second is the new way of life that is found when we embrace this grace together in community and how that frees us to participate in the kingdom of God.

Law and grace: We can see from the dialogue that from Jesus’ perspective, there is no such thing as “good enough” when it comes to obeying the law. In fact, he states that only God is good! So, when this rich ruler claims that he has kept the law since he was a child, Jesus intensifies the law and shows that it requires more than this man expected. Only perfect is good enough, and only God is perfect. The rest of us must rely on God’s grace because we cannot do the law—the checklists—as Greg put it well enough, and that’s not even the point; the point is to come to God and find life there rather than in what we do.

Jesus’ promise of plenty: In Luke 18:28-30 Jesus makes a promise to those who have left their home, spouse, siblings, parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God. The promise is that they will receive many times as many of these things both in this age and in the age to come. Mark 10:29-30 makes it clear that this was not to be understood in some abstract or spiritual way and also adds that persecutions will come to these same folks. If you want to claim the prosperity Jesus is talking about, you need to know that persecutions come with it!

But what is really meant by all of this? Consider the following passages: Matt. 12:47-50, Acts 2:44-45 and Acts 4:32-35. In these passages the following becomes clear:

  1. Jesus redefines family as the ones who do the will of God.
  2. Everyone in this new kingdom community gave up possession and control of their own things and consolidated the resources with this new family.
  3. This new community was joyful, communal, and generous to those in need so that eventually there were no needy people among them because their needs were taken care of by the community.

It is in this way that Jesus’ promise became true: his disciples gave up one home and one family to join this larger family with many homes and live in community with the family of God both in this life and in the life to come!

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. Why was Jesus so hard on the rich ruler who was just trying to obey the God-given laws of the Old Testament?
  3. Do we tend to relate to God through the law (check list style) or through the love relationship we have with God through Jesus? Give some examples of both.
  4. Obviously, the community of Acts 2 is radically different than most of our lives today. But we are still called to be kingdom people! Discuss with one another what steps your group might take to move in the direction of living this sort of kingdom vision out.
  5. Recall Greg’s three challenges: a) Commit to not possessing (you may still own it, but you hold it loosely and it’s available for others) anything and ask God to help you let it go. b) In what ways are we still chasing the American Dream instead of the kingdom of God? c) Pray together about how we can be more of a kingdom community than we are right now.