Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Which do I choose?

In my Bible, he doesn't a have name.

He has power.

He has prestige.

He has potential. 

But he doesn't have a name. He is simply called, "The rich, young ruler." 

Though he is a man of influence, he approaches Jesus with childlike eagerness.
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him...
He demonstrates humility and respect.
...and fell on his kneebefore him.
And he asks a sincere question:
“Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Most educated Jews came to Jesus with answers, not questions. I can't imagine they ran to Him. We certainly never hear of them kneeling before Him. Jesus replies, perhaps playfully, at first.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
As Jesus recites the law, I imagine the man was encouraged. Jesus was telling him something he already knew. There was nothing shocking or unexpected in the first half of Jesus' response. Perhaps the rich, young ruler dared to breathe a sigh of relief as he declared,
“Teacher, all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Oh, the weight of the silence that followed. This faithful, religious man--this law-abiding, righteous-living man, waiting for his verdict. Hoping he had done enough; hoping he was good enough.

He is looking for a judgement. But Jesus is looking for a relationship. The next words in scripture leave no room for doubt:
Jesus looked at him and loved him.
Jesus loved him. Jesus loved his eagerness. Jesus loved his respectfulness. Jesus loved the sincerity of his question. Jesus even loved his passion for righteousness. But above all that, Jesus LOVED him. Knowing every second of this man's past, Jesus loved him. Knowing what was about to happen, Jesus loved him.

Here is where the story starts to hurt. We modern Christians have become Jesus Salesmen, always trying to make it as easy as possible for people to come to faith. Jesus never made it easy. In fact, with Jesus it is always an all or nothing proposition.
 “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.”
I'm pretty sure that this assignment wasn't about the money. I'd even wager it wasn't about helping the poor. It was about relationship. Jesus wanted a fully devoted follower. Jesus wanted an unencumbered disciple. Jesus wanted more than good deeds and law-keeping. He wanted the rich, young ruler's whole life. Why?

Because Jesus loved him. 

And the fact that Jesus loved him tells us no one was more grieved by the rich, young ruler's response than Jesus.
 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus loved the rich, young ruler. Jesus died for the rich, young ruler. But the rich, young ruler went away sad, choosing his creature comforts over eternal life.

And so I have to ask myself, "Which do I choose?"