Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

6.05.2009

What is Holding You Back?

He was a young man, typical of the upper middle class. Those who knew him best, however, would argue that he was anything but typical. He was the kind of man everyone aspired to be. They would frequently comment, “What a hardworking boy! There isn’t a lazy bone in his body!” And indeed, this was true.
He had cultivated his time so wisely as a boy that he had always been acknowledged as the leader of his peers. Nothing had changed with adulthood. In fact, he was one of the youngest men in politics. A high achiever with big goals, he seemed bound to succeed.
Not only that, but everyone looked up to him for his unimpeachable morals. There was no law that he did not follow, no “t” that he did not cross, and no matter of ethics in which he did not take the high road.
Somehow, though, he still found himself pondering life, its meaning, and its end. Things had been difficult lately, he admitted to himself, and time seemed to rush by so fast that he found himself strangled. His parents were getting elderly, his companions were marrying and moving away, and his leadership was facing several crises. He wondered what his future held. Thankfully, he still had his wealth to fall back on. He could still pay for the best care for his parents. He could make new friends through his connection and power. He could buy more time for himself by hiring more employees. Surely, if he could use his money to do this much, he could use his righteousness to do more! Everything in his life was bought and sold, and it only made sense to treat his future in the same way.
Suddenly, off in the distance, he saw a quickly growing crowd. After just a moment of perplexity, he realized whom the fuss was about. It was about a man he knew from the exuberant stories of a friend —a man called Jesus.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, but whether he was or not did not really matter to the young man. What mattered was that He was reputedly very wise, and He might know how he could gain eternal life. A wild idea entered the young man’s head.
Suppose he asked Jesus about the very question he had just been wrestling with? Then, if Jesus really were the Messiah, He would know the true, godly state of the young man’s heart and could encourage him. After all, why should he needlessly remain in despair?
The young ruler was on his feet, elbowing his way through the motley crowd. His feet dug into the dusty road. The hint of a smile lifted his lips as he imagined Jesus’ warm reception.
There Jesus was. The rich man called out through the noise, “Good Teacher!” and Jesus turned his sun-weathered face to him. The young man noted his plain, almost shabby attire and lack of ornaments and hesitated. Then, almost unconsciously, he knelt in the dusty road.
He asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” He waited for Jesus’ assurance that he did not have to do anything more for eternal life, but none came.
Jesus did not hesitate before the gaudy stripling. “Why do you call me good?” He asked, and the young man cocked his head in surprise. “No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young man had felt embarrassment and conviction as Jesus questioned his motives, but then he caught on the word “commandments.” This was his area.
“Which ones?” he asked.
Jesus replied, “’ You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ You shall not steal,’ You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
With smugness, the rich man said to Jesus, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
He put up a confident front, and he waited. But Jesus had left out one of the commandments on man’s relationship with his fellow man—the one on covetousness.
Jesus looked him in the eye and said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
The young man stared down at the sand and rocks on the road, and he snorted. God had given him his wealth, had He not? Riches were not a bad thing, and here Jesus was telling him to distribute his wealth to the lazy men of the world! Somehow, though, he felt the truth of Jesus’ words. He slowly rose, shaking his head. Now he almost felt tears in his eyes, and he knew that he was stuck. His wealth was his lifeline, his crutch, and his consuming desire. Eternal life just couldn’t compare to a life of riches in his mind. He turned his back to Jesus, and he staggered up the road he had just walked. He heard Jesus say, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
But he was too far away to hear either the astonished disciples ask who could be saved or Jesus firmly answer, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The rich young ruler walked up the road. He had his power over thousands. He had the admiration of thousands, and he had his thousand, but he had chosen these at the cost of eternity. His money handcuffed him and held him back from choosing Christ. Like so many other possible distractions in this world-entertainment, fame, friends, habits-he let temporary money become such a priority that it kept him from choosing eternal life. He walked up that road, and he felt the jingle of coins in his pocket and the fires of Hell on his face.
Taken from Mathew 19:16-26

2 comments:

  1. Very well (re)told Lauren. It really helped me see that story with a fresh perspective!

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  2. Thanks! In writing it, I actually came across a self-proclaimed "Christian Philosopher" who set out to prove that the rich young ruler made the rational, logical decision. He attempted it, but left me more convinced than ever of how much this rich man gave up!

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