It’s a challenge to work with young IT professionals in Bangalore with its BPOs and MNCs, the ‘silicon valley’ of the east and back-office of the world! I’m convinced mission has moved from the nave into the neighborhood and church ‘happens’ out of our cathedrals in ‘call centers’. Challenged by these ‘well-to-do’ ‘achievers’ who are also ‘seekers’, I’m reminded of the rich, young ruler who came to Jesus looking for something more in life (Mark 10:17-22). This incident shows being healthy or wealthy does not necessarily make one happy. You can have everything and lack just one thing and in reality have nothing!
Looking for something?
One cannot help but like this young winner-man; he probably worked hard and now had much possessions, great prospects and a privileged position. In spite of all these ‘things’ he was looking for truth and longing for something more. He came to Jesus asking, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.17) This young professional in leadership position had the things this world offers but not what it cannot give nor take away– eternal life; that satisfying, abundant quality of being!
Being youthful, today an obsession, the man realized is fleeting and must be fulfilling. As a ruler he would have command/control abilities perhaps he was popular and respected. Yet he acknowledged his need and came ‘running’ to the right person (Jesus) at the right time (while interested) and ‘kneeling’ asked the right question. How would Jesus respond to this enthusiastic person with good manner, great morals but a lot of money?
Lacking just ‘one thing’!
‘Jesus loved him’ and so, told him the truth – ‘You lack one thing’! (v.27) He did not want the man to confuse or substitute an ethical life with faith to ‘receive’ eternal life. This religious leader thought he had to ‘do’ something; earn, merit or inherit this life that Jesus presented as a gift (v.15). Without denying the fact that He was ‘good’ or ‘God’, Jesus rejects flattery and challenged his understanding of God’s revealed Word– the 10 commandments. Its amazing this man could tell Jesus that he had ‘kept all these’ from youth.
What was Jesus’ purpose for holding up the mirror of God’s laws to this person? It was to allow the law to reveal his sin (Rom 3:20) and need for God’s grace and a Savior – Jesus: the only Way, the Truth and the Life that he was looking for! After all, the law was given to serve as a schoolmaster or guardian to lad and bring people to Christ (Gal. 3:24). The one thing he was lacking was not something transactional but deeply relational – Jesus!
Leaving Someone = loosing everything!!
Jesus gave two invitations worth considering: “Come unto me and I will give you rest” Matt.11:28, but also: “If anyone comes after me, he must deny self, take up his cross and follow me” (Lk.9:23). This ‘rich, young, ruler’ was told to get rid of his possessions and humbly follow Jesus into the future. Jesus laid down the ‘cost of discipleship’ with the offer of eternal life and so must we. Without “forsaking all” one can’t “follow Christ” or have the assurance of eternal life. How would this young professional respond?
This religious, well-mannered man was ‘stunned at Jesus’ demand’ and left him grieving. He wasn’t willing to trade-off what he had here-and-now for this ‘Pearl of great price’ and ‘heavenly Treasure’. Jesus warned about riches’ deceitfulness and the impossibility of serving two masters: God and materialism. This man’s real master became clear and no doubt he was covetous and God will not have any other beside him (Ex.20:3, 17). Though blessed with so many things this man forgot it is ‘God’s goodness (not human badness) that leads to repentance’ (Rom.2:4). There’s a gospel for the rich and with regard to salvation, with God nothing is impossible.
Heaven is not for good people, its for perfect people! There is only one way to be made perfect, by accepting God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Its free, but not cheap! Jesus loves us and asks of us nothing that he himself didn’t give up for us, on the cross! May we never lack that one thing without which everything else in this life amounts to nothing– its new life ‘in Christ’!