Thursday, July 4, 2013

Though He Loves You

Although all of Scripture is divinely inspired, there are certain passages that stay with you longer than others. I would venture to say far more people have memorized and have been impacted by John 3:16 than 1 Chronicles 1:5 and that is because certain verses just have a special kind of gravitas.

Certain verses just mark you. You return to them time and again, you read them over and over, you even memorize them, systematically dissect them, do word studies, and the deeper you go the deeper you want to go in that passage, verse, or even sentence.

Although I’ve preached on the rich young ruler often enough, and have pointed out what amounts to an astounding truth in my opinion, I keep returning to this passage, humbled by the knowledge that though Jesus beheld the young man and loved him, He let him walk away.

When discussing this particular event most people tend to focus on the difficulty of those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God. It was after all the young ruler’s inability to part with his material possessions that compelled him to walk away from Christ, but there is a deeper meaning in this passage that most either ignore or choose not to see.

Mark 10:19-22, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.’ Then Jesus looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.”

I’ve heard it said by men who ought to know better that Jesus was just trying to make a point. They say that Jesus was just trying to show us how impossible it is to work our way into heaven, but if this was the case Jesus picked a really inopportune moment for an object lesson.

Although it would make us feel better about our duplicity and compromise to conclude that Jesus chased the young man down and explained that He was just trying to make a point, there is no hint of this anywhere in the Bible.

As the young man was grieved and went away, the Bible does not say that Peter chased him down and said, ‘Jesus was just joshing’ but rather the young man was allowed to leave, to remove himself from before the presence of Christ, having chosen his possessions over the cross.

If in fact this was just a lesson, then Jesus was downright mean with this young man.

The young man had come seeking to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. In that Jesus loved him, we intuit his sincerity, for Jesus would not love one with an insincere heart. The young man took the time to track Jesus down, to come before Him, and sincerely ask what he must do, and upon receiving the answer he came to the conclusion that he was not willing to pay the price.

Far too many today believe that God loves us too much as individuals and as a nation to let us go, even though we squirm against his embrace and do everything we can to distance ourselves from the warmth of His love. They believe that in His love God will either force us into a relationship with Him, or overlook our willful sin in order to continue having a relationship with us.

First, God will not compromise His righteousness for anything or anyone. He did not compromise His righteousness when He saw His only begotten Son hanging on a cross, and He certainly won’t compromise it for you or me because we refuse to surrender our all to Him.

Second, in His eternal wisdom God already knows there is no such thing as a forced relationship, and as such He won’t even attempt it.

With us as individuals as well as this nation, though God loves us, and loves us dearly, He will allow us to walk away if we so choose, just as He allowed the rich young ruler to depart though He loved him.

Sooner or later we all come to learn that God does not make concession for anyone. Either we obey, submit, surrender and follow, or we will find ourselves outside with the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and all who love and practice falsehood.

We choose the cross or the world, righteousness or lawlessness, light or darkness.

If you can muster the requisite joy, happy 4th of July!

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post and the encouraging truth. I am responding to this post because I just read this passage a couple days ago and spent some time thinking on it. I thought it interesting how the ruler was truly seeking to find the way to eternal life. Although when he found the Way, he was unwilling to take the path. Jesus confronted the one thing he held more dear in his heart. This convicted me and I had to allow God to search my heart. Mike, what is the evidence of a true disciple that should show in a christian`s life. After all it may have appeard that this man was a follower of Jesus because he did obey all the commandments.

Barbara said...

I think it is significant that the man just turned and left. He did not argue or try to reason with Jesus, he just gave up. It was like parting with his wealth was out of the question.

The heart is what leads you to Christ. If you love your wealth more, than how can you serve Christ? He sort of wanted to have it both ways and coudln't.

Most people have no troulbe being good as long as they don't have to give up something that they want. When they have to make a hard choice, they just choose themselves instead.