Turn off your cell phone, TV, or radio. Listen to the silence that is around you. Listen for God to speak to you.
Mark 10:17-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
“Head, Heart, and Hands!” “Head, Heart, and Hands!” I had a preaching prof at the Bible college who was like a football coach screaming during workout drills. “Tell me why I should care what you think. Even better, help me process what to do in response.” I spent two semesters hearing this. Kid after kid would preach in the class and at the end of their sermon, our prof would say, “that was fine, so what and why should I care?”
I think in this passage today, the rich young ruler missed the point of religion. He had the head knowledge of what God expected, and he even kept all the laws. So what is it that Jesus noted the young man was lacking? I think it was love for God. The young man was practicing a dead religion like the kind that was being practiced when James McGready, Finis Ewing, Samuel McAdow, and Samuel King began to preach to the heart of the people on the frontier. They sought to excite a passion for the love of Christ to all who would listen. Relying on the Holy Spirit to convert the heart, a movement of passionate worship and acts of piety began.
As a minister, I can find myself going through the motions. I visit people in the hospital, creating sermons, doing Bible studies, administrating the church, and when the day is done I realize that I have operated in my own strength, in my own power, without the thought of God. I have seen Christians who have the right knowledge and even the right works, but their passion seems to be in the doing and the thinking, not the love of Christ.
If not careful we can be like Martha who works hard but uses that busyness to keep the presence of Christ to a safe distance. We can claim the name, staying comfortable by doing the busy work, but Christ wants to be intimate with us and, at least for me, that is scary. Opening ourselves up in intimacy to anyone is a frightening prospect. In faith, we open ourselves up to a loving God and we pray to fall deeply in love with Christ.
Lord, help us to not mistake doing with loving. Let all of our works be rooted in our gratitude for You and Your love for us and the world. Amen
Go with God!