Jesus is not a side dish
Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21 ESV
When I read the story of the rich, young ruler growing up, I always focused on the go, sell, and give command of Jesus. Maybe it seemed so radical that I couldn’t get past it? I would ask myself, “Lord, could I, would I do that for you? If not, please make me willing. I want to have that heart. Amen. (The End). Recently, as I watched this story play out in another person’s life, I realized I was missing Jesus’ second command, which can be argued is the most important part.
Jesus could have told the rich, young ruler “go, sell, and give; then stay right where you are, live the same life, and accumulate more wealth. In five years, I’m going to come back and we are going to repeat this cycle. You are going to fund my ministry.”
If Jesus had asked that of the young man, I don’t think the young ruler would have balked. In fact, he might have been flattered. Like me, the rich, young ruler seemed to like the To Do list. (Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? Matthew 19:16 emphasis added). The rich, young ruler wanted a formula, a punch list; something he could do in parallel with the other adventures he had going in life. I wish I couldn’t relate to that, but I can.
I fight my tendency to be a cafeteria-style Christian, picking and choosing when and how Jesus fits into my day. Living such a life is convenient, but impotent and idolatrous. Jesus is not some bowl of jello side dish to add to my American entrees of secular status, success, and significance as I walk through the food line of life. He is LORD, and I’m so grateful, that despite my efforts to do so, Jesus will not be put in a neat and tidy box.
In this Truth, Jesus gave another command to the rich, young ruler (come, follow me), which is even more radical than the first. This man was young. The only thing more valuable to give besides his current possessions was his life, which certainly includes his future earning potential, but is so much more than that. As we learn in the story of the fish and loaves, Jesus doesn’t ask for half of the boy’s lunch. He doesn’t want half of our time, attention, talent, treasure, dreams, and devotion. Jesus wants it all, for one reason it all belongs to Him and He loves us too much to let us live in any other way.