I became a Christian in 1975 after debating some Baptist street evangelists. I wasn’t raised in church and had become an ardent atheist, but I knew some things about Christianity. I knew that Christians believed in the Trinity and gargoyles, and that they were against science. At least I was right about the Trinity.

After coming to Christ, in order to catch up with the kids in Sunday school, I read the Bible a lot. I learned that if you read 40 chapters per day, you could read through the entire Bible every month—or, what I did more often, through the New Testament every week. Consumed, I began seeing not just how each book of the Bible is distinctive, but also how each passage reinforces the major themes of the book in which it appears.

One New Testament theme that resonated with me early on was self-sacrifice. I saw this theme most clearly in the Gospel of Luke. As I grew familiar with the book, the meaning of Jesus’ words in chapter 12 became obvious to me. When Jesus called people to follow him, he demanded that they forsake everything, instructing his disciples to sell what they had and give the proceeds to those who need it more. By so doing, he said, they would provide themselves wallets that don’t get old, an unfailing “treasure in heaven” (v. 33).

As a new convert, I didn’t think giving up my possessions for Jesus seemed difficult—especially as I realized that the eternal reward far outweighed any present sacrifice. Or perhaps it seemed easy because I was young, idealistic, and didn’t own much. But I hadn’t been taught differently. While lacking a church background may have led me to take this passage more literally than Jesus intended, it helped ...

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