Thursday, November 5, 2015

Did Jesus ask for too much?

The rich man calls him good teacher. "What must I do?" he implors. Seems rational and sane for a seeker of eternal life. "Keep the commandments" the teacher's reply. A checklist! I get it now. Because clearly, if we check everything off with God, then we hurry our reservation, prove our worth, and ensure our future.

Don't murder, Don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't bear false witness, honor your parents....and the rich man, who must certainly have experienced some amnesia, replies, "All these I have kept since I was a boy." Not to come down too hard on the rich man, but really?

Then a pause. Jesus looks at him and the book of Mark tells us Jesus "loved him." Then, the God-man turns all of the self-righteousness and rule seeking on it's head, and as if he has looked straight into the very personal heart of this seeker, he turns the rich man's question from "what must I do?" to "Who do you love?" Jesus asks the man to give up every. thing. he. has.

"One thing you lack, sell everything you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." A personal invitation to walk alongside the real, living Jesus, to come and to follow. But the rich man heard Jesus asking for too much. He went away sad. He could not possibly imagine such sacrifice for a Savior he ultimately did not love.

The greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, is quickly followed by loving your neighbor as yourself but the second cannot authentically happen without the motivation of the first. And all the do-gooding in the world cannot make up for a lack of love.

The questions we need to ask ourselves is not so much, "what must I do?" but "who do I love?"