In last week's gospel lesson we receive profound good news: God's mercy and love are so unconditional that there is absolutely nothing we can do to increase or secure God's assurance of eternal life. Jesus accomplished it all for us.
But we also received challenging news -- especially when we remember that most of us are wealthy. Not many of us go to sleep hungry or wonder where we can sleep safely. Here's the challenge, as Pastor Randy said -- Personal wealth is NOT a sign of God's favor.
If we look to God to affirm our life, Jesus will expose all the nooks and crannies of our assumptions. It gets back to the reasons why you worship God or confess or pray. It can't spring a hope to complete some list of spiritual tasks that will mark us as "faithful". We also will be exposed in any assumption that we are entitled to our wealth and to its ultimate security.
Ask yourself the question: What is your preference: fat bank account and a thin relationship with Christ and other
simple, humble means and lavish, abundant love for and from Christ -- for and from others.
Most of us can speak quickly about our preference -- and yet I can think of few who would be cheerful if told "go: sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and follow Christ".
Something to think about. Something to pray about. Something to be truthful about. Something to remember --
Christ meets us in the poverty and hunger of our lives, lavishing us with the abundance of God's love and mercy.
The man approaches Jesus on the basis of two false religious assumptions that were common in those days. First, you could keep the commandments to earn yourself eternal life. And second, personal wealth is a sign of God's favor. The reality, as Jesus saw very clearly, was that the man was not looking for suggestions on how he might change his life, but rather was looking for the assurance that he is okay, just the way he is. He is simply asking Jesus to affirm his life. He is totally unprepared for Jesus to challenge his basic assumptions. Yet that is precisely what Jesus does.