This young man, who kept the commandments, and who Jesus loved, was the only one in all of Jesus’ ministry to refuse Jesus’ call leave everything and follow him. He was shocked and sad and wouldn’t follow him because, the gospel says, he had many possessions.
And even the disciples who did give up everything to follow Jesus are perplexed and astounded when Jesus goes on to talk about how incompatible possessing wealth is with entering the Kingdom.
Some say this story is about giving things up now in exchange for eternal life later. But Jesus actually says, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”
What does that mean?
Shane Claiborne, a central figure in the New Monasticism movement, writes in the Irresistible Revolution about how he used to talk about Jesus as homeless, but he says that he now realizes that Jesus had many homes. Everywhere Jesus went he had a home.
And Jesus’ followers, too, sent by Jesus on various missions took nothing with them, but gratefully received hospitality from people in the towns into which they entered And in that way gained family, and homes, and fields everywhere they went.
Shane Claiborne practices this in his own way. He writes:
When I go on speaking engagements, I always request to stay in homes rather than in hotels, dependent not on the market economy but on the hospitality of the church. I usually say to folks who ask me to speak, “If you can’t find a home for me to stay in, then I won’t be able to make it.” And it is much more beautiful to spend an evening with a family in a home than alone in a hotel flipping channels, trying not to be seduced by dirty movies and dirty advertisements.
When Mother Sara first started to me about coming here I said, “We can’t afford to live in Seattle.”
And I was right.
I make about $10,000 less here than I did in Cincinnati and on housing alone we spend about $12,000 more a year on our apartment than we did on our mortgage payment for a much bigger house. And we’ve had to get rid of a lot of things in order to fit into that apartment.
And we’re much farther away from our families in St. Louis and New York and DC.
But we came anyway. Why? The short answer is that we prayed about it and we both heard Jesus’ call to come here. We haven’t given up everything by a long shot, and what we gained was, among other things, a communal Daily Office, a neighborhood church, and all of you.
And in all these things we know that Jesus is leading us, and though we have a long way to go, we’re learning how to follow him.
The question the young man asked that sparked all this talk is translated here as “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” But the word in Greek for “eternal” is “Aeon,” the coming Age, the Age that doesn’t end. The question, then, is something like, “What must I do to inherit life in the coming Age?”
And Jesus says sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow me, because the economy in the Age to Come is very different from the economy of the present age. It is an economy of trusting in God’s abundance rather than storing up wealth; hoarding it for ourselves. That’s why it’s so hard for the rich to live there. They (we) are more invested in this age. They (we) don’t trust God’s abundance. They (we) are afraid that they won’t have enough.
The economy of the Age to Come is an economy in which by holding things lightly we have everything—not in some magical way—but because in the Age to Come we share all things in common and can trust God to make sure there is plenty to go around.
And, Jesus says, we can live in the Age to Come even now, in the present Age. And learning to do that is what it means to follow him. Learning to follow him and live now in the economy of the Age to come, is a big part of what is meant by stewardship.
 Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical 10th Anniversary Edition, p. 167.