By Mark Kelly
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10:17-22 NLT)
We don’t know his name, but we know his character. He was a good-hearted, sincere man who loved God and had been willingly obedient to the Law since he was a youngster. He did what his religious leaders told him was necessary to enter God’s kingdom, yet he felt something was still missing.
Jesus felt a genuine love for him, but he knew what was lacking. This earnest soul was a captive of his possessions, which kept him from helping the poor. He needed to listen more carefully to Micah 6:8 — while he was walking humbly with God and loving mercy, he was not doing justice. Jesus knew we cannot serve both God and earthly possessions. He wanted us to love our neighbors as generously as we love ourselves.
When Jesus told him he needed to free himself of captivity to possessions and do right by the poor, the man was deeply saddened. He turned and walked away from Jesus.
However you see yourself, the fact you are reading this on a computer makes you rich, compared to the majority of people in the world today. You may be a good-hearted, sincere soul who loves God and does what your religious leaders tell you is necessary to enter God’s kingdom. Yet you wonder why things don’t seem quite right. You have asked God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. You have asked him for signs and wonders. You have done the 2 Chronicles 7:14 thing. You have prayed for revival, even participated in a solemn assembly. Something still seems to be missing.
So you ask Jesus what you need to do, and he looks at you with genuine love and says, “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, then come, follow me.”
What would you do? … What have you done?
The last great stronghold in most of our hearts is our captivity to possessions. We love what we have, and we have many things. We are even held in captivity by our desire for things we don’t have. If Jesus told us to sell it all and give the money to the poor, many good Christians would turn and walk away from him, deeply saddened.
Can you let go of things? Are you willing to give sacrificially to help the poor and oppressed? Will you follow the Son of Man, even though he has no place to lay his head?
What we are missing is justice. We are not personally engaged in helping the poor and oppressed, the hungry and homeless, the patient and prisoner. We are not loving our neighbor the way we love ourselves.
If we want to inherit the Kingdom, if we want to experience the abundant, eternal life God created us to enjoy, if we want our churches to be filled with God’s power and drawing broken souls to Jesus, we need to do justice. Then our salvation “will come like the dawn.” (Isaiah 58:8a NLT)
Mark Kelly is editor of Multiply Justice. Copyright © 2012 Kainos Press