When I Am the Rich Young Ruler

Tuesday Re-mix –

Step 1: We admit we are powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”   When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, 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.”  Luke 18:22-25

I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.

You want to know another reason why it is so difficult for me to admit that I am powerless over my addiction to self-reliance and that my life has become unmanageable because of it?  It is because I am an American Christian…in other words, I am the “rich young ruler” to whom Jesus says, “give it all up and just rely on me, then we can talk.”

We, the church in America, are SERIOUSLY wealthy, not only in material things but in human resources, giftedness, skills, abilities, ingenuity, innovation, strategic thinking, and in almost everything else one might imagine to be helpful in building any organization.  Moreover, we have virtually all the freedom in the world to build our churches and to thrive, free from government interference or persecution.  We have entire libraries full of books written by our pastors.  We can flip to any of hundreds of radio stations and hear our choice of preachers.  And I can spend a lifetime (and HAVE) studying the church and learning strategies for building it and measuring which of those strategies works best in which environments.  We are really good at doing church.  I am really good at doing church.  How easy it is to carry on as if I do not need any help at all when it comes to being a good churchman.

So it hits me like a splash of cold water for Jesus to say to me, “You’ve done pretty well Blake…now go and get rid of everything you think you know about church and about conflict and about peacemaking and about the Bible and about my people…give it all to me and just come and rely on me.”  It is what He demands of me.  It is not safe and it is not popular.  In fact, it is not even reasonable.  It is utterly and profoundly radical.  And it scares me.

It requires such a level of childlikeness and humility so as to make me entirely uncomfortable.  I would much rather just rely on the things I know.  After all, I know more than most about the church and the Bible and about God.  Isn’t that enough?  It is certainly safer…and more predictable.  Of course, I may be wrong from time to time, but I will take those odds most days rather than give up all control and rely completely on Him.  That is the truth.  It is especially true when I am operating in an area of strength for me.  But Jesus says, “Go and give up that strength…put it all in my hands…stop relying on yourself and your wealth of resources and just rest in me.”


That is really, really tough.  And it is so much more than just a one-time event.  It is a constant, moment-by-moment deal.  And I suspect that I fail more than I succeed at it, which is why I find myself here in our Thursday support group for people addicted to self-reliance.  I need help!  I truly am powerless to do this alone.

© Blake Coffee
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3 responses to “When I Am the Rich Young Ruler”

  1. Thank you, Blake, for this reminder of what I am going through…It helps with perspective… : ) God’s blessings be upon you!

  2. As my bride and I conversed the other day we talked about the rhetoric in both America and Christian America, outside and inside the church, especially during this politically season when demonization occurs often. That demonization occurs around “how tough it is, how tough we have it” living here in the good ole USofA. My bride commented that any of us who live here ARE the 1% (as opposed to the 99%) when it comes to the rest of the world. Your article points that out, we are the “rich” ones in so many ways. Regardless what the 23d Psalm says, we just can’t “let go of our wants.” We are indeed Ad(d)dicts and then some. But will we confess it?

  3. […] 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 […]

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