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WHAT STANDS BETWEEN ME AND HIM?
"One day one of the local officials asked Him, 'Good teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?'
"Jesus said, 'Why are you calling me good? No one is good -- only God. You know the commandments, don't you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honour your father and mother.'
"He said, 'I've kept them all for as long as I can remember.'
"When Jesus heard that, He said, 'Then there's only one thing left to do: sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.' "This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go." Luke 18:18-23 (The Message).
Yet another familiar story, so well-known, in fact, that we might easily miss the impact of it!
Firstly, this story shows us how uniquely and individually Jesus applied the good news of the kingdom to people. He didn't tell this man, 'You must be born again,' nor did He say, 'I must come to your house today,' as He said to Zaccheus. This man had his own issue and Jesus dealt with it with penetrating insight. He had no 'salvation formula' which He applied mindlessly to everyone. The issue was: What was coming between this man and Him that prevented him from entering into an intimate relationship with Him?
Secondly, the man's question reveals his misunderstanding of God and of what he called 'eternal life'. His concept pivots on the words 'deserve' (The message) or 'inherit' (NIV). He was approaching his eternal destiny from the point of view that he had to 'do' just one thing to win God's approval, and then eternal life would be guaranteed him. He did not understand that God does not grant eternal life on merit, and that eternal life is a journey, not a reward.
Thirdly, he did not understand that eternal life is a commitment to follow Jesus, learn from Him, imitate Him and become joined to His Spirit who comes to take up residence inside and to represent Him on the journey to becoming like Him. This is a journey towards wholeness, breaking with the beliefs and practices which bring destruction to a person's body and soul, and becoming increasingly like the Master in thought and action.
It may or may not begin with a decisive moment. Sometimes there is an imperceptible transition from independence to dependence, from being my own boss and setting up my own standards to handing over the reins to Jesus and coming under His authority.
Fourthly, he did not understand that there is a difference between living a morally upright life, which is a requirement, but not a qualification, for eternal life, and giving Jesus the right to rule in his life. Zaccheus qualified, not because he kept the commandments (which he didn't) but because he dumped everything that stood between him and following Jesus.
With surgical precision Jesus cut through all his misconceptions and got to the heart of his problem - he worshipped an idol -- his wealth. Zaccheus dumped his idol; this man refused and, at that moment, made his decision to continue his journey to the rubbish dump of a worthless life and wasted potential. He could have become a true worshipper and experienced the start of a journey that would take him to the Father forever, had he only realised that wealth and possessions cease at death.
This is the heart of every person's choice -- what stands between me and Him? No one can serve two masters and Jesus plays second fiddle to no one.
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