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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Rejecting God's Word for Wealth

A story that haunts me is Jesus’ encounter with a nameless, wealthy young man as he made his final journey toward Jerusalem.

Here was an important civic leader, a youthful climber with a prestige, bearing, and bank account that would have been the envy of many older men in Judea. But there was a hollowness in his chest that led him ever so close to the God adventure of a lifetime.

For all his status and personal wealth, this man had a hungry heart. The gospel of Mark tells us that he ran to Jesus, falling on his knees in the dust before him. You know the story. He asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. He knew the commands, and he’d kept them all since he was a boy.

But there was something more, and he knew it. He deeply wanted that something. But with all his heart? Not quite.

Mark tells us that 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.” (Mark 10:21)

It was a wide-open invitation into a God adventure from the lips of God’s Son. “Your mission, should you choose to accept it….” We know that he didn’t accept the mission. We know that he “went away sad.” The original language seems to indicate that this was something more than feeling a little down. He grieved. His heart was very heavy. Everything in him told him he was making a wrong choice…but he made it anyway. Jesus wasn’t asking him for his money. He wanted to change his identity. He was inviting him into a new way of life. It’s quite a picture isn’t it? That invitation is still extended to each of us today.

But what if he’d made a different choice? What if this young man whom Jesus loved so dearly had taken a deep breath, agreed to the Lord’s terms, went back to his beautiful villa and sold everything he owned, except the clothes on his back. What if he had turned those assets over to a steward with the instructions to distribute everything, right down to the last denarius, to the poor people in towns and villages across Judea. Then, let’s imagine he came running back to Jesus, fell at His knees again, and said, “Teacher, it’s done. Everything’s gone. Everything’s sold. Lead me, Lord!”

What would his life have been like from that point on?

We can’t know that, of course. Since we’ll never know…the wise choice is to always follow God, no matter what He asks, no matter where He leads. Even if it’s to a cross.

Excerpted with permission from The God Adventure, by Terry Meeuwsen © 2005

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