By Josh Taylor
We all have our own proudest possessions, the part of our lives that we are not willing to give away in order to truly follow Jesus. When Jesus calls us to become his disciples, to follow him, there is a cost involved.
The challenge that struck me as I was thinking about this passage was what is this cost in my life? What is it that holds me back when Jesus calls me? There is always something that fights for our allegiance.
It’s like we all constantly face a big game of tug of war. On one side Jesus calls us to obey him and follow him whole heartedly and on the other side there are the tempting offers and habits that hold us back from fully committing.
But the fact is that the choice has to be made. We either follow Jesus or we don’t. There isn’t some pleasant negotiable middle. That is why Jesus says it is so hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. It is because they are held back from giving their loyalty fully to Jesus; instead they trust in their wealth.
The story of the rich young ruler finishes with an interesting question. The disciples ask Jesus, who then can be saved? Jesus says “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” The point here is that we don’t just try to make our own lives better somehow and prove to God that we’re not so bad after all, because that is impossible. The point is that relationship is the key element. It is with God that all things are possible.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a german theologian who was martyred in WWII said this:
“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death-we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to otherwise godfearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time-in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ."
The journey of Lent is one where we remind ourselves of our call to obey Christ above all else.