Rich Young Ruler
Not long ago, I re-read the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). I read it in a different translation than I was used to in the hopes that it would stand out to me.
It was an interesting experiment and after I was done, I wasn’t sure that I had ever read these 4 relatively short books of the Bible — one may say the more crucial ones since they deal with Jesus — before that time.
I’d just always heard the gospel in
Reading it all together, in order, lead me to realize that Jesus was… different than I thought He was. Even though I’d grown up in the church, I still thought of Him differently.
The Jesus in the Bible is smart.
Something that I wasn’t expecting happened. After reading through the gospels, it felt like I understood what Jesus wanted from me. I also thought I realized what he wanted from all of us.
It seemed so obvious.
He wanted me to give up my stuff. All of it. To place Him as the first and foremost thing of importance in my life.
There were passages upon passages like this one from Matthew 8. There’s this crowd gathering around Jesus and one dude walks up and says, “Teacher, I will follow wherever you go.” And Jesus says, “That’s awesome. Thank you — ” Oh wait. That’s not what Jesus says. What Jesus actually says to this guy is, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
That’s right. Someone comes up and tells Jesus that he’ll follow wherever Jesus leads, and Jesus says, “I don’t have a home. I’m not stopping this train.”
In that same crowd, another guy says, “Just let me bury my dead dad and I’ll be on my way.” Jesus, apparently without missing a beat says, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Which all sounds pretty…
So later (in Mark 10), there’s a man that the Bible describes as a Rich Young Ruler. He asks Jesus what he’s got to do to get into Heaven. Jesus reminds him to keep the commandments. The Rich Young Ruler, trying to be as sure as possible says, “Which ones?”
At this point, Jesus rattles off a few of the main commandments, and the Rich Young Ruler says, “Yeah. I’m crushing all of those already.”
And Jesus looks at him and says, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Straightforward right? Naturally, all of these people followed after Jesus… right?
The Rich Young Ruler turns away disappointed.
And that’s exactly how I felt… too.
You see, having grown up in the church, I’d mostly done the “right” things my whole life. I’d committed my life to Christ. I’d said, “Jesus, I’ll go wherever you go.” And here He is basically telling me, “Not good enough.”
I could empathize with these characters because Jesus wasn’t just talking about money (which as much as the internet would like to remind me, I make plenty more than poor countries, but I still need to be able to pay bills). No, he was even talking about family as well.
In Luke 14, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters,yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Yeah, that’s a problem for me. I do not hate any of those people… I’m not going to leave them. Ever.
What do you do when you’re confronted with a directive from the person you feel is your Savior that you just can’t do?
You walk away disappointed.
And that’s what I did.
But I’ve never forgotten.
Surely there is a way to reconcile all of my problems with faith and God and Jesus and modern-day Americanized Christianity.
Join me on my journey. Maybe you’re in a similar place. Maybe you walked away disappointed too.
If this is you —
If you’ve experienced something that you feel is a part of your faith that you just can’t believe…
— then you’re not alone.
I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time.
So now I’m going to write it