There was this rich kid who came to Jesus. He was wealthy and powerful but still, he came to Jesus with a question. What do you suppose it was that brought him to Christ? Can’t we assume he had everything? Money. Power. Success. But here he is…
“Hey teacher, what do I gotta to do get into heaven? How much is it gonna cost me? I’m a bottom line guy so just give me the bottom line.” (Luke 18:18-23)
Jesus knew where he was coming from. “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'”
“Awesome. I’ve got it. I’ve done those,” the rich guy says.
And then Jesus drops the bomb, Jesus style. Jesus looks right through me and you and sees our motivation and what’s really important to us. He see it in this rich kid. “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
I can almost hear the gasp. The rich guy just turns and walks away and Jesus lets him without even arguing the point. Ouch.
The problem wasn’t that the guy was rich. Jesus saw he had a problem with his priorities. The guy was into just getting enough Jesus stuff to cover the basics and get heaven. He was cool with doing the religious stuff, obeying the commandments and dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s. But, he wasn’t about to follow Jesus with everything. God has never been cool with playing runner-up.
I see “rich young rulers” all the time. They hang out doing some Jesus stuff but their bottom-line doesn’t add up to following after Christ with everything. I hear Jesus say, “Go and dump that boyfriend and come follow me” or “ditch that job that defines you and come follow me” or “stop serving that nice big house of yours and come with me.” And then I watch people turn and walk away.
Sometimes I want to ask, “Jesus, why you gotta be like that?”
But then, I’m thinking, if God is really God, all powerful, all present and all knowing, how can I expect any less of Him? Who am I to negotiate with Him? When He says I will gain it all when I lose it all, who am I to argue?
The rich kid walked away. I don’t know if he walked away mad. I don’t know where life took him. Maybe he ended up hating God for messing up his life when he later lost all his money. Maybe he died happy but then never tasted heaven. Maybe he gained the whole world but lost his soul. All we know is that he walked away and Jesus let him walk.
I see teenagers walk away chasing after popularity. I see women walk away to chase after beauty and fashion. I see so many people stop following after Jesus to pursue relationships with romantic interests. I see people put Jesus second or third on their priority list just until they get that next promotion. We walk away when Jesus says, “Go and dump it all and give it away. Give up what you think is important to discover what is truly important.”
If you’re walking away, turn around. Let all that other stuff go and walk back to Jesus.
Actually, I think I’ll run back.