“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found

difficult and left untried” – G. K. Chesterton

     In Mark 10, a man with an incredibly important question approaches Jesus. It’s a familiar story — maybe you know it. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Or to paraphrase “How do I really live?” Jesus responds with a good rabbinic answer: “You know what the Bible says, you know the commandments.” The man, confident in his religious achievement says “Yeah, I’ve been doing this stuff since I was a kid.”

In a piercing statement, Jesus says to him: “You’re still missing something. sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter—and the man was “disheartened by the saying” and “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Jesus made a demand for commitment that this man was not willing to make (at least not at this moment—we don’t know what happens next).

We have to be careful not to over generalize passages like this to every situation. Jesus does not call all of us to sell all we have—but make no mistake, Jesus demands the same kind of unrelenting commitment to him. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Jesus, in Mark 8 [ESV]).

I was talking with someone recently about what they have going on in their life. They told me about a commitment they made that they were beginning to regret. They had volunteered to help a group with a production — it involved group sessions several times a week, plus some work to be done in private. The problem was that this person was already spread pretty thin. They had a couple other things going on, and they just didn’t have the time to follow through on the commitment. When I asked why—given all they had going on—they said they would do it in the first place. “I was having a good week. I thought I could do it.”

The truth is, we all do things like this all the time. We make commitments without really considering the situation. The call to follow Jesus cannot be one of them. It’s a real call, that demands all of us. And it means we have to consistently evaluate our heart’s commitment, and the practical out-workings of that commitment in our lives. The good news is that there is incredible life that comes with it!

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” — Jesus, Mark 8 (ESV)



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