Are you living loved today?
Friday, July 31, 2009
Are you living loved today?
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The young man said to Him, "All these (commandments) I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"
Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:20-22 (NKJV)
The gospels are full of stories. Some were parables that Jesus used to teach spiritual truths. Others were real life stories of people who chose to follow Jesus, or to reject Him.
Of those who chose to follow Jesus, most people had a specific reason for doing so--a catalyst that made them take that initial step. Some followed because they witnessed great miracles, like when some of the Disciples saw Jesus give them such a great catch of fish that their nets began breaking. Others followed because Jesus healed them from illness, rescued them from demon possession, gave them sight or ears that could hear or restored legs that could walk. And still others followed because they experienced great forgiveness that they knew they didn’t deserve.
People followed Jesus because they had a reason to. It wasn’t just a new religion to them, it was personal. They were “touched” by Jesus.
One day a young man came to Jesus. He was rich. He was good. He (I think) wanted to follow Jesus, but he was looking for a reason to. What did Jesus have to offer him? He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t in need of great forgiveness. He had no physical or material needs.
And yet something was missing. He could feel it. He asks Jesus, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” I’m not sure he knew what he was asking for exactly. Maybe he was talking about living forever with God in the afterlife, or maybe he was saying, “I know there has to be more to life than this, but what is it, and how do I get it?”
Jesus responds by telling him to follow the Commandments, which this young man has done. “What do I still lack?” he asks. Notice that he doesn’t say, ‘I guess that’s it then. I’m good. Thanks, Jesus. I feel better now.’ No, he knew there was more.
Jesus tells him to go sell his possessions and give the money to the poor and to follow Him, but the man rejects this idea and walks away, feeling sorrowful.
What reason does Jesus give the man for doing such a radical thing? Just one. “You will have treasure in heaven.” I don’t think the young man realized it, or he wouldn’t have walked away, but this “treasure” Jesus was talking about was what the young man lacked. He didn’t have it, and he wanted it, but he didn’t see its value.
In Matthew, Chapter 13, Jesus tells many parables in an attempt to explain “the kingdom of heaven.” It seems that no one comparison can adequately explain it, so He gives many, but one of them would have resonated with this young man better than the others.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went out and sold all he had and bought that field.”
Jesus wasn’t asking this man to give up everything to be left with nothing. He was asking him to exchange what he had for something better. For something that was priceless. For the one thing he still lacked. The man didn’t see it that way and went away, how? Sorrowful. Sad. Full of grief and despair. What did he lack? Joy. He had everything else, but he wasn’t happy, and he knew it. He was looking for the joy.
What reason do you have for following Jesus? You may have a few, or you may have many. But is joy one of them? Do you enjoy it? Is it thrilling and delightful? Incomparable to anything else? In a good way?
I encourage you to spend some time thinking about that. If following Jesus isn’t something you find joyful, why is that? What are you missing? What would Jesus tell you to exchange for the greatest treasure of all?
Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s busyness or perfectionism. Maybe it’s the expectations of others. Maybe it’s religion. Maybe it’s a lack of belief in God’s unconditional love for you.
Maybe you can pinpoint it right away, or maybe you need to ask Jesus to show you what it is. Maybe it’s one thing, or maybe the causes are many. It might be a quick-fix, or it might be a long journey, but either way, whatever you need to do to find the joy--it’s worth it.
For where joy is, there is life. There is God. There is truth. There is perfection. A treasure not of this world, but a heavenly one. And not just for someday; but for today, tomorrow, and always.