Jesus looked at him and loved him. “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.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:21-27
The story of the rich young ruler always convicts me. I suppose it should convict all of us in the American church, because we are so unbelievably wealthy, whether we know it or not. We all take our turns as the rich young ruler from time to time.
So, as I read this message with new found conviction, and as I start the process of genuine transformation this time around, what happens next in my mind is almost comical. It reminds me a little of this scene from the old Steve Martin movie, The Jerk:
That is exactly the conversation that goes through my head when I start “giving up” stuff for the Lord. When I look around and see how FILTHY RICH I am (by the world’s standards) and start asking myself what I would be willing …
Step 3: We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]
Applying step 3 to our particular addiction (the addiction to self-reliance), feels a little bit like comedian Steve Martin’s simple process for becoming a millionaire…Step 1: go and get a million dollars.
For those of us who are addicted to self-reliance and independence, “turning your life over to God” has always been a bit of a troublesome concept. Oh, it’s easy enough to say…and it was easy enough to do when we were 7 years old at children’s camp and our “life” consisted of a bike, a broken G.I. Joe and an annoying little brother, all of which we would gladly “turn over to God” in exchange for Heaven. Moreover, even the concept of turning our “will” over to God seemed like a small price to pay at the time, given the reward of spending eternity in Heaven with all the donuts and sports we could ever want (what? you didn’t get that promise in your package?).
But it didn’t take long to start growing up and watching our “stuff” and our wills expand to cover a great deal more territory. Then, the desire for the applause of men and the insecurities which were beginning to haunt us caused us to turn more and more inward and to take more short-cuts and to work harder to control the environment around us in order to survive. The more we strove to control our environment, the harder it became and the deeper …