Monday, October 18, 2010

Room to Grow

"What must I do to inherit the kingdom of God?”

The rich young man thought he was almost there. If the Rabbi would give him the rest of the requirements, he’d be done.

He’d been a good boy all his life. He was clean and well dressed. Any mother would have been proud for her daughter to bring him home and announce they were engaged.

Jesus looked at the boy’s innocent face and loved him immediately. Who wouldn’t?

I’m sure he made quite a contrast to the grubby disciples who had been following Jesus from town to town. They were older, less refined, even crude. They didn’t look as nice but they had come much further than the boy in their spiritual journeys.

They had left everything to follow the Rabbi. But even they weren’t near the finish line. They still had much further to go.

This boy thought he was nearly done when he really hadn’t even started. He didn’t know any better. It’s the confident naiveté of youth.

We older folks smile at the optimism of the young ones. We know what will happen to them soon enough and we also know that men like this one can usually pull themselves together to face unexpected challenges.

Jesus must have decided the young man was ready to grow up a little. “There’s only one more thing to add to your list. Sell everything you have, give the money to the poor, and follow me.”

Scripture says the young man walked away sad. I’m sure he was. His world just got a lot more complicated. This disciple stuff was going to be hard. A lifetime journey.

This is not necessarily a story about materialism or money management. It’s about how far along we are in our discipleship.

How dedicated am I really? What have I been holding back? How much more of myself could I be giving to Jesus?

Turns out I’m like the young man, only I’m not young and handsome. I’ve got a few years (and pounds) on him. But I still have room to grow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is It Worth It?

Jesus was clear that the gospel is not for wimps. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35).

If following Christ is costly, then why do it? Why not go for the comforts and luxuries in this world? Why not live selfishly for our own pleasure?

I’m reminded of a choir teacher that felt a lot of frustration in her job. She would sing, yell, and work so much that she’d lose her own voice before every concert (she would resort to banging the furniture to get our attention). Her frustration stemmed from knowing how good the music could be versus how we sounded at the moment.

Why put herself through the angst? Because the performances were good and we won most of the contests we entered. And that was satisfying.

I think most of us feel the need for purpose more than we want pleasure. We want our lives to count for something important. We quickly see the emptiness of a comfortable life and we’d rather have the challenge and the fulfillment of doing things that make the world better.

Living for Jesus can be frustrating, even heartbreaking. We do it because we see how things are versus how they could be. We work toward a goal that ultimately glorifies God and saves the souls he created.

We believe the end will be worth the working and the waiting and the sacrificing.

It is not easy. But it’s good.