Religion is easy, until we’re asked to give something up. And eventually, we are all asked to give something up. Usually, it is that one thing we value the most: that thing we’ve clung to, built up, relied on. That one item in our lives that we most closely identify with or that we feel we absolutely “need”.
Matthew 19: 16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’]” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
We often think this story is about money…and in the outward instance, it is. However, as with most biblical teachings, there is an additional inward lesson: a much broader stroke to take in than just that the guy wouldn’t give up his wealth. He thought he had it all…not in terms of material “stuff”, but for the stuff he needed to “get eternal life” as well. And many of us feel that same way. However, he would not part with that one thing he cherished most. And many of us do that same thing, too.
What is that one thing for you? If God asked you to give it up? Asked you to move beyond it? To “get over it”? In fact, just thinking about it sends you into fits of, “Unh, uh! Nope! No way! Not. Gonna. Happen!”
Money (your savings or career?)? Family (through illness, accident, or falling out?)? Status? (your job title, civic duty, friendships?) Your identity? (As provider, partier, role-model…victim?) How about your intellect? And I’m not talking about the fact that Christ-followers, or followers of any religion, are mindless lemmings. I am saying that I’ve heard too many good, well-meaning, intelligent people say, “If you could just prove…”, “If God would just show…”, “If you or God could just tell me why…” God doesn’t work like that. At some point, you’re going to have to trust beyond your ability to grasp. You’re going to have to leap into the void of faith, rather than rationalization. Because I’ll be the first to admit: God…religion…following Christ…doesn’t always make “sense”. Are you willing to trust in that? To give that up? If not, you’ve just found your “thing”.
The one thing I do know, the one way God does work, is that, when you ask Him into your life, he will search your heart, search your mind, search your doubts, fears, hopes, dreams, and on and on, until he finds that one thing. That one thing you cling to…
Exodus 20: 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…
Why is it that too many well-meaning Christians don’t have “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding”? Why do we not enjoy, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
John 14: 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Do you believe this today? Truly believe in this statement from Jesus? Or is this just another empty promise and groundless claim from that nice prophet/carpenter guy that may or may not have lived a couple thousand years ago?
I think we may have found your thing…