Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:21-27
The story of the rich young ruler always convicts me. I suppose it should convict all of us in the American church, because we are so unbelievably wealthy, whether we know it or not. We all take our turns as the rich young ruler from time to time.
So, as I read this massage with new found conviction, and as I start the process of genuine transformation this time around, what happens next in my mind is almost comical. It reminds me a little of this scene from the old Steve Martin movie, The Jerk:
That is exactly the conversation that goes through my head when I start “giving up” stuff for the Lord. When I look around and see how FILTHY RICH I am (by the world’s standards) and start asking myself what I would be willing to give up in order to be a more effective servant of the Most High God, I can make a long list of “stuff” I know I do not need. And somewhere around 20 or 30 items down that list…the exceptions begin. ”I don’t need any of this stuff…except my house…and a car…and these clothes…and my 401(k)…and medical insurance…and 1 credit card…and, and, and…” It really does become comical, the way it plays out in my very wealthy American mind.
Do you see that, when we begin setting the terms of our followship of Christ, when we make certain exceptions and carve out certain “sacred cows” in our lives which we simply cannot give up, when we say things like, “God I will follow you ANYWHERE…except [insert your worst nightmare here]…” then we become the rich young rulers…we become The Jerk.
The calling on Christ followers to live generously is without boundaries. God pours into us abundantly and excessively. Doesn’t that require a similar attitude from us?
So, today I am making a new list. One without exceptions. And I will do it all over again tomorrow. And again the day after that. Maybe not the next day, because the Olympics are on that day and I try not to miss the really big events like that…but you get my drift.