For some reason, I have been thinking of the Rich Young Ruler this morning. He was a man who came to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life.
I think his premise was off from the beginning, and Jesus was trying to show him this. First, Jesus says, "Just keep doing what you have been doing. Obey the commandments, follow the law."
But the man was smart enough to know that this was not enough, at least in Matthew's version. He told Jesus, "All these I have kept (I have kept the law), what do I still lack?"
Jesus responds by telling him 2 things, one of which we focus on and the other we miss.
Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
That first part of the answer hits us hard. We consider it (giving away all that we have to the poor) and then want to explain it away. "Well, Jesus doesn't ask that of everyone," or "Jesus just wants us to have a loose grip on our stuff," or "Jesus was speaking that way to this man because he had a problem with wealth, but I can handle it." Care to add your favorite?
It is a section of Scripture that we don't want to talk about a lot. But I think the lessons are huge.
First, try as we might, we cannot do anything to earn our salvation. Going to church, praying, tithing, helping little old ladies across the street, been there and done that. There must be something more. What is missing?
Second, Stuff can and does get in the way. Our lives are cluttered and messy. They are full of wazgunnuz. I was gonna pray about this, I was gonna read that book, I was gonna go to church today. It's not that the wazgunnuz save us, but they do reveal our hearts. When we don't get to our wazgunnuz, we reveal what is important to us by what we have done. What if our lives sounded like this, "I was gonna what that show, but I was praying, I was gonna take a nap but I needed to read another chapter of that book, I was gonna play another round of golf, but I remembered that I wanted to take some of that clutter down to the Christian Center. I think our wazgunnuz reveal a lot about us.
Third, The thing that is missing is following Jesus. Even selling all that we have misses the point if we do not follow Christ! This seems obvious, but I think it is what most Christians are really missing. I wuzgunna follow Jesus, but I was too busy getting rid of my stuff, that takes a long time you know.
Following Jesus. Like Mary, who sat at his feet while Martha was so worried about having everything in place. Maybe we don't have to give it all away, maybe we just need to let all that other stuff take a back seat to loving Jesus.