In the presence of the
Son of Man,
the rich young ruler chooses incorrectly.
The story of the rich young ruler leaves me feeling sad because I know people like him, and if I’m being honest, I have his heart a lot of the time. The wealthy man had it all, yet he wondered how to inherit eternal life. There is something wrong with his approach. He desired to do something to inherit this life eternal, but that isn’t how an inheritance works. An inheritance is given. Receiving that gift requires a humbling of our hearts in order to receive Christ’s gift of eternal salvation.
An encouraging story of the opposite response to this specific call of Christ is that of James Barnett. James was born into a Christian home, graduated from college and started a job making six-figures. Sounds like the dream, right? Not to James; he felt like something was missing.
The turning point for James was a mission trip to Nicaragua where he encountered the world’s “least of these” and shared the gospel with them. When James came back to the States, he felt God call him to sell everything and to care for the poor and needy. So he did. He has devoted his life to caring for those who most people ignore or look down upon.
Just like James, the rich, young ruler had a choice: submit to Christ as Lord and sell everything to follow Him, or to continue his lifestyle. Coming to the conclusion that surrendering would cost him too much, the ruler chose his worldly wealth and comfort over the cruciform lifestyle. While this may seem extreme, this begs the question of us: What would we do in that situation?
- What is God calling you to surrender in order to follow Him?
- Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Have you determined the cost is too great to follow Jesus wholly, or do you have a surrendered, opened handed posture?
- Is there something getting in the way of following Jesus, loving your neighbor, and proclaiming the truth of who God is? Is there something missing in your life that would enable you to do those things?
- Have you seen any examples of others living sacrificially? How has this impacted your life?
God of all power,
you call us to forsake all else to follow you.
Fill us with a desire to see your kingdom come
that surpasses any promise wealth can make,
that exceeds anything else we idolize,
that your glory might reach the ends of the earth
in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This week, fast one day from sun up to sun down. As you abstain from eating, replace your meals with prayer. Ask God what comforts you place ahead of faithfulness.
Surrender your comforts this week and start up a conversation with someone you never talk to. This could be a co-worker, a neighbor, your barista, the checker at the grocery store. As you talk to them, pray for God’s presence in your conversation.
This week, practice Lectio Divina on Ecclesiastes 3. Read the passage through. Read it again slowly and meditate on a word that stands out to you. Then read it again and reflect on why that word would stand out to you. Then pray on whatever God reveals to you.
Lectionary readings for this week: Genesis 17:1-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38
Following Jesus requires obedience to give up our own comforts to follow Jesus. John Cortines and Gregory Baumer are two Harvard Business School graduates who were experiencing great success and wealth until God told them to give the majority of their money away to those in need. Their book, God and Money, is a practical guide filled with case studies and research that offers an honest look at what the Bible says about generous giving.