Questions. We all have them. Questions can play a big part of what moves us: “Where should I go to college?” “What should I do with my life?” “How do I have a meaningful relationship?”
And we live in a world that provides a lot of answers.
Over 30,000 blogs are uploaded giving “5 easy steps” to beauty tips, relationship advice, and successful business planning. I recently Googled the top ten TED talks and saw one of the top talks was titled: “5 steps to finding happiness.”
Coca-Cola sponsored the World Cup games and this slogan: “Open Happiness.”
Even products claim to provide the answers to our deepest longings, only to leave us empty.
I don’t know your questions. But I want to give you “the answer,” which is far better than a cheesy commercial or a “5 easy steps” blog.
Are you ready?
This was the theme for the Steubenville Conferences this summer.
On Saturday, with an audience of 2,000 young people, I unpacked Mark 10:17-30. The story of the rich young man kneeling before Jesus asking: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He comes to Jesus looking for a solution, not a Savior. And he walks away sad, not ready for Christ’s answer.
There are three truths we can learn from this story:
The Deception of the External
Here is the deal. The externals can be deceiving. Especially because this kid is a good kid. He isn’t the one murdering people or kicking dogs.
Sometimes when we seem to be doing good things, we can deceive ourselves that we are good on our own.
I was with a group of youth ministers who were watching SNL and ripping down Miley Cyrus, who was hosting. Okay, I am not a huge Miley fan. But here we were, “holy Catholics,” booing the TV (someone we didn’t know). One of the youth ministers stood up, saying: “Hey guys, she is just broken, and we are broken too.”
The room went silent. Sometimes in our good works we can think our “poop” doesn’t stink. We can think because we are wearing the Steubenville t-shirt and have the hand motions, that we are walking upright.
But God looks to our hearts.
The scariest Gospel reading for me is in Matthew 7, where the apostles do good works and even prophesy in Jesus’ name and Jesus says “depart from me, you evil-doers, I do not know you” (verse 23).
Yes, the externals can be deceiving.
The Demand of the Internal
Jesus demands our hearts. And the beauty of the scripture is that when this boy is rather clueless, Jesus looks at him with love (verse 21). He still answers his question, calling him to discipleship!
Many people misunderstand this scripture and think it’s only about giving up our possessions, when it’s about true discipleship. If you look at the text, Jesus only lists 6 commandments in verse 19. There are 10 commandments and the first, according to Jewish tradition, is the most important: To love God above all else and have no idols.
Basically Jesus is leading him to face the problem, his idols. The true issue is that the kid loves his stuff. When Jesus says “You lack one thing,” He is asking for that “one thing” so God can be his everything.
What’s your everything?
I want to say God is the center of my life all the time. But I can’t. Not always. There are times I cling to self-reliance instead of Him. I look to my image, my FB status, my intellect, or even my ministry (my work) as what defines me.
And Jesus becomes one of many things instead of my ONE THING I live for.
God wants to be our ONE and ONLY thing. St. Paul tells us that he counts it all as garbage compared to the gift of knowing Jesus (Phil. 3:8).
This is discipleship. To lay down our life and follow Him (Mt. 16:24).
Need for Our Savior
The saddest moment is when the young boy walks away sad because he has many possessions. He can’t do what Jesus asks. And here lies the tension in the story.
What if the boy would have just asked for help?
What if he would have said “Lord, I can’t do what you asked, can you help me? I don’t have the desire to let go of these things. Change my heart!”
So many times we think that our faith is about our doing things. But it’s more about receiving His grace. Calling out for Him in our need.
Essentially Jesus wants to save this boy from himself, from the things that pull him away from true happiness. He is Savior. The question is, will we let Him save us?