Thursday, November 3, 2016

I Never Saw This Before

I've been working on reading through the Bible in year. I've done this before possibly from front to back, but also with a little Old Testament, a little New Testament, and a little Psalms and Proverbs mixed in. This year it was front to back. I have to be honest, the Old Testament prophets got a little much. I apparently did not inherit my dad's love for these books of the Bible. That makes me a little sad. I'm sure I could cultivate that love though. There were definitely nuggets of gold that I found throughout these books, but I am enjoying the New Testament now.

So we all know the story, a rich man comes to Jesus and wants to know what to do to have eternal life. Now here's the first thing I see and I actually didn't even notice this until right now when I'm hammering out this post. He came running to see Jesus. He was excited. We run when we are either scared or excited. Yes, I know people run for the sheer pleasure of running, but I can hardly be friends with those people. I run to get away from something or to get to something if I'm in a hurry. So this young man running to Jesus gives you the idea that was either excited to talk to Jesus or desperate for an answer to his question.

He wants to know what to do to inherit eternal life? I'm going to assume here that he was fairly confident he was going to get a stamp of approval on his life and be told, "You my young man are doing just fine. You keep doing what you're doing and you'll get to heaven." Jesus starts out by saying "Keep the commandments." Can't you see the young man heaving a sigh of relief and thinking to himself, "I knew it. I knew I was a good man. I knew I was on the right track." "Yup, Jesus, I've done all these things since I was a baby."

Then Jesus drops the bomb on him and tells him to go sell all his stuff and give the money to the poor. "Then you will have treasure in heaven, but then you also need to come and take up your cross and follow Me." We know how this story ends, the rich young ruler leaves sad because he was rich.

Now there's a phrase or two in this story that, I think, often gets overlooked. I don't know if I've ever really noticed it before today or ever heard anyone else discuss this story and mention it, but I think it's vital to take note of. Listen:

"Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him," First Jesus looked at him directly. He wasn't using him as an object lesson for the crowds, he was looking at the young man, listening to him, hearing him and then secondly he loved him. He wasn't just trying to get rid of the man by giving him a command he knew he wouldn't want to keep. Jesus really loved this man and because of this love He gave him the hard command. He knew how hard it was for people to give up their things. He knew the trust we all place in our money and our possessions, but He also knew the secret to true happiness and eternal life was to place all this in God's hands.

I think when we are talking to others and we have some hard stuff to say there are two things we need to do. First we need to look at them, we need to see them as an individual loved by God and deserving of respect. We need to give them our undivided attention and really see them. Secondly, we need love. Hard things said without love are just that: hard things. Hard things softened by love can become palatable and doable. Now obviously the rich young ruler walked away and maybe the person you will talk to will walk away too, but you can let them go knowing you followed Jesus' example by seeing them and loving them. And that's hard to do sometimes.

But I want to take the time to really see the people God puts in my path and then to love them as an individual created by God and loved by Him.

Just my ponderings from the Book of Mark, chapter 10, verses 17-22.

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