Men don’t usually run over to other men. But this guy bolted up to Jesus, humbly knelt, then asked: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
He was eager to learn from the teacher from Nazareth. He didn’t wait to request a Nicodemus-style private midnight meeting.
Jesus responded with compassion. “You know the commandments: do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy.” I can just see the young man nodding his head. Yes, yes. I’ve got this!
Two thousand years later, we too await the divine nod. We know the commandments. We seek to live well and do no harm. Our calendars overflow with church activities: Bible Studies, Sunday worship services, rehearsals and meetings. Many of us have memorized scripture, know volumes of church doctrine, and served on numerous church committees.
I can just feel myself nodding. Yes, yes, I’ve got this!
In a pause of eternal significance, Jesus continued: “You lack one thing. Go, sell, everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Jesus called the young man beyond his do-no-harm faith.
The young man lived by the rules. His list and its boxes were all checked. He honored God, his family, and harmed no one. He was living a good life, a faithful one by any religious standard.
But, Jesus, moved the conversation from the Law to the heart. For many of us, that is a bulldozer move…not a simple organizing-the-closet move.
Stunned. The young man was speechless.
That kind of trust … he did not have. Not able to pay the costly price to follow the teacher from Nazareth…
… He. Walked. Away.
We 21st century followers of Jesus bear resemblance to the young man. We want to punch our tickets (baptism, confirmation, sacraments). We live a do-no-harm life. We are proud there are no bodies in our wake. Most of us have not injured anyone… not physically, not socially, not emotionally.
As followers of Jesus, however, we are called to a higher standard. A do-no-harm life is good if you are a chain saw or hot lava. We must leave behind the things of this life that distract us from caring for God’s agenda. We must abandon our selfish ways.
Do the needs of others break your heart?
Do injustices of child trafficking, drug-addicted street residents, and domestic violence make you weep?
Are you willing to have a conversation with a guest at a soup kitchen?
Will you spend time with a lonely senior citizen?
Can you spare a few minutes to read to a child in a low-income elementary school?
Are you a do-no-harm person or are you an active follower of Jesus?
(Scripture from: Matthew 19:16-20:16; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30)
photo credit: Will Foster via photopin cc