When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When I walked past the National Theatre today there was a full-scale fire evacuation taking place. Hundreds of people thronged the South Bank, evacuated from the building. None of them looking particularly distraught at the idea of the UK’s premier theatre being razed to the ground! Of course, it wasn’t. Having checked the BBC News website and found nothing about a catastrophe next to the Thames, I assume it was just a false alarm. It did get me thinking what I would save from my flat if a fire broke out, however. It was quite difficult to think of anything, really, but I decided I would probably attempt to lug my wife’s harp out, since it is probably the most expensive thing we have!
In today’s reading, Jesus challenges a ‘certain ruler’ about what it is that he values. The ruler has asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies that he must keep the commandments, to which the ruler replies he has done so. Jesus then tells him that he still lacks one thing. To get this ‘thing’ he needs to sell everything he has, give the money, and then follow him. The ruler was totally dejected when he heard this, since he was very wealthy. Clearly the thing that he valued most was his cash. Jesus could see into this man’s heart, and knew that whilst he claimed to keep the commandments, his life had not been transformed by the Gospel. When it came down to it, he would rather live a life of luxury rather than place his trust in God.
This is challenging stuff indeed. I wonder if there is anything in our lives that is holding us back from following Christ, anything that prevents our lives being totally transformed and devoted to honouring God? Perhaps like the rich ruler it is money. Could we give away everything that we have if we were asked to? Maybe its friends or family who don’t know Christ who would make our lives difficult if we acknowledged our beliefs? Maybe its our jobs, or a hobby, or the things we say and do. Let’s pray today that our lives will be totally focused on serving Christ, and that God will help us to remove anything from our lives that prevents us from genuinely following him.