Many of us are familiar with the story of the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler asks Jesus the requirements he must fulfill to merit eternal life. The ruler has followed the commands of God and, on paper, looks like he’s on his way to heaven. Jesus proceeds to throw a curveball knowing that the ruler could not complete the thing he was about to suggest to him. Jesus tells this rich man to sell everything he has. (Matthew 19:16-30)
This got me thinking in a few areas of following Jesus.
- Jesus sure seems to have a lot of requirements for following him; Jesus’ calls to action for non-believers was anywhere from selling possessions to social justice to being born again
- If the rich young ruler really was doing everything right, why was selling everything a deal breaker in inheriting eternal life?
God wants our hearts; he wants everything in our lives to be surrendered and submitted to him in obedience. The rich young ruler walked away saddened because he was not willing to give up what was most precious to him for the sake of following Christ.
If this is our line of thought I can only begin to imagine the amount of surrender and submitted obedience that has yet to take place with so many of us millenials.
Have we really given everything to God? The answer is no. While on Earth we will never be able to be fully obedient or surrendered. But I think in this we have many resources that will allow us to be as obedient and surrendered as possible.
Some of us have a life that is, by most standards, pretty good (comfort, safe, etc). Some of us currently are living a life that, by most standards, bad (despair, suffering, etc). If you are living in suffering, then you know that it seems to compel you to commit yourself more to spiritual practices that would connect you with God our Father. In suffering we are humbled, vulnerable, and desperate for a solution that only God could fill. If you are living a comfortable life then you know that suffering is often hard to come by; contentment sets in and we are left engorged with the pleasures of life only to fill what little space of our stomachs with spiritual bread crumbs. Life becomes almost too easy for our own good.
The ruler had everything and he did what was right. He followed every command that would merit him a believer in Christ; yet Christ knew that the young ruler’s heart was still held captive by the riches of the world. Christ also knew that the self-inflicted pain of selling possessions was going to fully sober the young ruler’s heart to the reality of the Gospel.
Two questions remain:
- What are the “possessions” that we need to go off and sell?
- What are the things we must inflict upon ourselves that will allow us to better comprehend the goodness of the gospel?