Red: Daily Reflections Thursday, October 22, 2015
This is the third week of daily reflections based on the sermon series, "Red: Understanding the Hard Sayings of Jesus." This week we'll be focusing on lessons of discipleship learned from Luke 14:26, where Jesus states "Unless you hate father, mother, sister, brother, wife and children--even yourself--you cannot be my disciple."
For some of us, surrendering over to God the lure of success, the affirmation and comfort that comes from acquiring money, or even the things that we've managed to accumulate can be way too much to bear.
"God," we might bargain, "you control all of those things over there in my life--you know my spouse and kids, my faith and the church-going side of me... but let's just let me handle the whole career thing, and the money, too if you don't mind. Oh, and by the way, I really do need three cars, a boat, a motorcycle and a couple of jet skis. And all those pairs of shoes. And those things I just bought on QVC for everyone for Christmas--I know, I bought three for me, but they were on sale. Now why don't you just go on back to running the rest of my life that I've surrendered to you."
Jesus had a conversation with a young man who thought that he was absolutely killing it when it came to being a good person. "Teacher," he asked Jesus, "what do I need to do in order to have eternal life?" Jesus replied, "if you want to be in with God, then just keep the commandments."
Then the young man did something interesting. He asked, "Which ones?" Now why did that dude ask that question? I think it's because he was the kind of guy who wanted to know the real deal. He was thinking, "There has to be some of these that are more important than others, right? So all I have to do is find out which ones are the right ones, and then I do that."
To his relief, Jesus rattles off a bunch of commandments all of which have to do with being a good person: "Don't murder, don't steal, be nice to your parents, don't lie about people, don't cheat on your wife and love people." And the young man starts to feel pretty darned good because he's kept all those commandments. All those areas of his life have been surrendered to God.
But then Jesus says to him, "Listen, there's only one thing that you lack." By now the young man is all ears. He's thinking, "One thing? Are you serious? That's all I have to do is one thing, and then I am in like Flynn?"
And Jesus says, "Sell all your possessions, give them to the poor and come and follow me." In the Bible it says that Jesus told the guy this, knowing that he was a person of means. It also says the young man went away sorrowful, because he was unwilling to give up the one thing that he hadn't surrendered.
Are your notions of success keeping you from being the person God has dreamed for you to be? Are you so scared of loosening your grip on your money that you can't hold on to the truth about yourself? Have you become so attached to your stuff that you can't imagine living without it?
The answer for you might not be as radical as Jesus' answer to the young man. I am not even convinced that Jesus truly meant for the guy to actually sell everything and follow him, but maybe he was. Regardless, the guy was unwilling to do it. And it cost him. He missed out on the incredible journey that Jesus' followers continued upon. He missed out on the abundant life that Jesus offered to his disciples and delivered in spades.
Don't let your money, your stuff or your dreams of success keep you from fully following Jesus. Open your grip, let them go and discover how much more you are able to hold with hands that are ready to receive.