When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)
Relate: Jesus was a heretic. No, wait, please… before you go running for the exit, please hear me out. By our standards of orthodoxy He had to have been. What He taught all too often doesn’t seem to line up with our rigorous definitions of sound theology. I’m serious (sort of). Just take for example the way He answers the most important question anyone could ever ask: “What must I do to inherit eternal life.” Two different times someone comes to Him asking this question. Both times He seems to get the answer wrong.
I mean, seriously. What was He thinking? By the time I was in third grade I had learned by rote at least three different “proper” ways to answer this question. The first was called the ABC’s of salvation: Admit you are a sinner, Believe that Jesus died for your sins, Confess your need for Him. The second way was called the Romans road. Basically, you cherry pick various verses out of Paul’s epistle to the Romans to show a person the same thing as the ABC’s. The third way and easiest by far was to simply get a person to repeat with you the sinner’s prayer. Any of these three methods will work, but Jesus doesn’t use any of them.
The first time someone asks this question of Jesus, he responds by asking a few leading questions and then launches into the story of the Good Samaritan. After sharing that parable He says, “Go and do the same.” Then… Oh wait, that’s it. There is no prayer. There is no “repeat after me”. Jesus just tells him to do. He tells the one asking to go be the Good Samaritan. The second time someone asks this question Jesus again starts with a few leading questions and then again He tells him to go do. This time the doing involves selling everything the man has and then following Jesus. But what about “admit your sins”? What about “confess and believe”? Why on earth is Jesus calling these men to act? Doesn’t He know that works-salvation is heresy? Isn’t salvation supposed to be a heart issue? Doesn’t He know that we are saved by what we believe and not by what we do?
React: Sometimes I think that in our effort to nail down the perfect theology we have made things a bit too easy. We today are the product of an enlightenment, rationalist mindset. We have formulated, organized, and systematized the life out theology. In some ways this is good. It makes it easier to grasp and understand certain things of God. Is this trade off worth it? We have created ways where people can give an intellectual or emotional assent to what we are saying and fool themselves into thinking that is enough to be a Christian. Today we tend to be great at getting converts but horrible at making disciples. God has called us to be Christ followers, not nominal believers. The call to discipleship is a call to nothing less than complete surrender. Am I willing to take it up?
You are the pearl of greatest price. Help me to give up everything else I have that I might gain You. Help me to die to myself, my dreams, my accomplishments, and my treasures. Help me to understand that compared to You they are nothing. All I want is You. Help me to want to want You more. Let everything else fade to black.