Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Experiencing the Father's Heart, part 3

Jesus lived a life of upside down values.

A rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what he could do to inherit eternal life. In other words, he was coming to Jesus asking how he could follow him. My expectation is that Jesus would be delighted to include him in his band of followers, but that isn’t at all what Jesus did.

Jesus referred this young man to the 10 commandments for what is good: don’t murder, steal, commit adultery, lie, or dishonor your mother and father. The young man was able to say that he followed these rules for his entire life.

Once again, seems like a good guy to get on Jesus’ team. But, Mark 10:21 says that “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

He loved him too much to not recognize the area that stood between him and Jesus. For this young man, it was money.

Jesus said, “Go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because then your treasure will be in heaven, not on earth. Then, come and follow me.”

An challenge in the midst of the invitation.

Come follow me, but don’t let even one thing stand between us.

Do these words challenge you? I struggle to write this reflection because our reality is that we have so much while the world has so little. And yet, it is often hard to part with our funds because we wonder if “we will have enough.”

You may be asking, “How does this interaction give us a picture into the window of the Father’s heart?”

Jesus knew that money was this young man’s bondage because it was above him on the priority scale. The temptation not to trust God to have his best at heart caused him to walk away from Jesus, rather than follow his loving heart of challenge. Money was his idol.

What’s an idol? An idol is anything that takes higher priority than God. An idol is not money for a lot of people; which is why Jesus wasn’t asking everyone around him to give away all their possessions.

What can an idol be? Our position at work. Being popular at school. Having a fit body. Our spouse or our children. Being healthy. It can be anything because it is “where it fits into our priority list” that makes it an idol.

The picture of the Father’s heart that stands out to me in this passage is that Jesus looked at the man and loved him. Those words are music to my ears. The more that I experience the Father’s love, the more my life changes in positive ways.

Take a moment to reflect on your life. If you were the one standing before Jesus, asking him, “How can I live a life that reflects your values?” what would he say back to you?

But, before you hear the answer, reflect on the reality that Jesus loves you. He loves you and wants the best for your life. He is for you and not against you. Romans 8 speaks to this truth:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. What then, shall we say in response? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us everything?” (Rom 8:28, 31-32)

The rich young ruler walked away from Jesus.

He didn’t trust Jesus’ heart to be enough for him. This is everyone’s struggle: trusting the Heart of the Father. But, when we look at Jesus and see that he was willing to “give up his life” for us, we can begin to live out the truth that the Father is for us. He wants the best for us, and he will use Jesus in our life to show us the way to freedom.

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