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October 26, 2017
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Rich Young Ruler

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock… it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is  like a foolish man who built his house on sand. He lives with an uneasy anxiety because he knows his foundation is rickety.”    

—Jesus in Matthew 7:24-26, paraphrase with bold added

 

If I could catch you in the midst of your busy life and ask you a question without you having the time to think what answer would sound the best, how would you truthfully answer this:

What in your life, as long as it is okay, means life is okay? What is it that, as long as it is not threatened and as long as it is there for you to rely on, provides you with a pervasive sense that all is good? In essence, what is the foundation upon which your happy well-being is grounded?

To some degree, for all of us, it would be money. Please, don’t cry foul. You know it’s true. But we would also have other “foundations,” such as success, social standing, what people think of us and our children, our house or spouse… as well as a multitude of other silly little gods upon which we depend.

Over time, they have become our foundation for happiness and, in an unintended reversal, have now become our masters.

We see in the Bible that the Rich Young Ruler depended on his great resume for salvation. He had it in hand and was hoping Jesus would say, “Wow, you are really something!” Instead, Jesus offered to him a defining moment, a clear-cut path into the A-plus life. His trust in his resume was blocking his salvation. Now, we see his false foundation was blocking him from experiencing the A-plus life.

It was hard for that young man to take Jesus up on his offer. He actually said no to God. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Why would anyone say no to God? But, we do.

In order to explore why we would, let’s start with what an alcoholic and a drug addict have in common. Could it be a total dependence on a substance? Okay, but let’s dig deeper. What do the following also have in common: a famous person… a beautiful woman… a superstar athlete… a very successful person… a very smart intellectual… a very religious person… a socially prominent person… a very rich person.

What do all of these have in common that makes it hard for them to enter the A-plus life, including the alcoholic and addict? They have something other than Jesus Christ on which they think they can depend. And thus, their entry into the “Kingdom life that is truly life” is prevented.

We might be tempted to say these people already have the A-plus life. For this young ruler and for us, there is no greater obstacle into the A-plus life than the illusion that you already have it.

Picture any of these people standing before Jesus, like the rich young ruler, asking, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus would reply to them,

You don’t have to wait to inherit it; the Kingdom has come, and you can step into it now. But if you want to enter, you must surrender your dependence on your money, beauty, celebrity status, success, religious formalities, prominence at church, social popularity, or whatever else you rely on… not because it is necessarily bad but because you need it too much and it’s too rickety for the A-plus life.

Jesus might not insist that we rid our lives of any of these things—although that may be appropriate at times—but that we must surrender our reliance on them because entry into the Kingdom is open only to those whose reliance and trust are placed on the King.

That bears repeating… Entry into the Kingdom and then traveling deeper into the A-plus life is open only to those whose trust is in the King.

Jesus meant it when he said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24). It is obvious that the alcoholic’s master has become alcohol. But for the rich young ruler, it is not so obvious, nor is it for us because our masters are not so ugly. But Jesus tells us as he told this young man, “You must transfer your trust from your current master to me if you want to enter life. The A-plus life is built upon the foundation of me, only.”

And now, lovingly, Jesus had this young man at a crossroads of faith, a spiritual crisis, and a chance for a defining moment in his life. Would he take it? Would he step into the Kingdom and begin his journey into the A-plus life? Or, would he retreat back and continue to rely on his self-made, rickety foundation of sand?

What is it you depend on? What is your foundation for happiness? Stop now and think deeply, please. We must all transfer our trust, our dependence, from whatever and wherever else it is to Jesus.

Will you?

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