As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible."
Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age--houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions--and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
Reflection Can you almost hear Jesus saying to the running man, “Do you believe you have done all of these things; following the Law of Moses by your own wit and your own will? Do you see that homeless person? that leper begging? But for the grace of God, that could be you. By the grace of God with you, you have been able to follow the law and now you need something more. You need to admit your absolute and utter dependence on God as I do.” “Of my own self, I can do nothing. I judge only as I hear, … and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the One who has sent me. (John 5.30)
Jesus insists that in all things he is utterly dependent on God. This is “with God life.” This is eternal life. Jesus puts his faith in his relationship with God rather than clinging to conventional, or even orthodox, programs for happiness. Our programs for happiness are all the things we do in an effort to feel safe, secure, esteemed, right, in control or powerful. Things like amassing food, property, money, weapons or insurance policies; avoiding conflict, following rules (commandments), being dutiful or failing to speak our truth in order to be liked by everyone, demanding perfection of ourselves or others, lording it over others or striving for position or success regardless of the cost to our integrity or to other people.
For the most part we get away with cultivating our programs for happiness during the early years of our lives. But when the time comes that like the running man, we are looking for something more, there is every chance that Jesus will counsel us, “Go, sell all that you have…go sell every earthly thing in which you put your trust because all of your possessions, all of the people cow towing to you, all of your righteous behavior, all of the privilege and power in the world will not get you “with God life.”
There is nothing wrong with material possessions, with being well liked, following rules or being successful. It is only when we have an inordinate attachment to these things, when we identify with these things, that they become stumbling blocks because they get between us and “with God life.” So go, sell everything you have that you cannot imagine living without to make room for “with God life.”
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