Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17-37

No one is running up to Jesus if things are going well. We run to Jesus because things aren’t going well. We run to Jesus because we are out of ideas and desperation has set in, depending on your threshold of pain. I happen to have a very high tolerance for physical and emotional pain, nurture? nature? who knows, but I didn’t start chasing after God, serious sprinting, until there were no other forks in the road. Preachers focus on the eye of the needle, and camels, and wealth, and getting to heaven. Me, I’m wondering what the heck is so wrong with this guy’s life that he’s running after Jesus.

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus has been on the move. I love this about Mark. Mark is the not-stopping for detours gospels. The writer of Mark has a point to make and he’s going to make it in dramatic, unapologetic fashion. Jesus has been everywhere, preaching to everyone. This guy has probably heard about Jesus and all the miraculous healing that follows Jesus wherever he goes. The deaf hear, the blind see, the sick are healed. This guy, his problem? Perfectionism. He’s done everything right. He has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He has followed the law to the “T,” oh, except for that one thing Jesus mentions about, “Do not defraud,” but that’s not one of the original ten. Maybe Jesus knows something about this guy we don’t and how he acquired his wealth. At any rate, if everything’s so great, why run Jesus down?

Sell everything. That’s what Jesus says. You’ve followed the law, you’ve done everything right, then the only thing left to do, sell your stuff. If you’re unsatisfied with the way your life is, stop paying attention to your stuff and pay attention to me, Jesus says. I’m not making a judgment on stuff. I have stuff, we all have stuff. And I happen to like the stuff I have. I think the son of God is wondering how attached to our stuff are we? I know when my stuff comes before my commitment to serving God, when I’m worrying more about my stuff than I am thinking and turning my mind toward the Holy, there’s a problem.

I don’t run in circles where people have achieved a certain amount of success and followed the Ten Commandments since they were small children (read the whole passage from the link above) with unwavering commitment and look at their lives, feel like something is missing, and go on the hunt for a spiritual life. I know those people exist, I’ve met them, they are really nice and have good teeth. My circle is more like the – my ass is falling off people – so reaching, running, or long-jumping to God is not a stretch for many of us. No matter the circumstances surrounding our need to widen and expand our spiritual life, Jesus is making a point to do it. If it takes selling everything, if it takes letting go of the baggage that has been weighing us down: physical, mental, and emotional baggage, take a look at that stuff and begin the process of unpacking it. Make space for the Divine, She always looking for another heart to move into.

 

— October 17, 2018