Read: Mark 10: 17-31
Reflect: “Sandy Cove, Camp I love”. I sang these lyrics every summer growing up. I loved camp, especially since I could earn at least one new merit bar every year. The wooden bars hooked unto each other like a ladder. My ladder was rather long. I had bars for swimming, setting up a campfire, canoeing, etc. Those bars displayed my accomplishments and I was proud. I had earned them to the point where I even received the “Camper of the Week” award.
That’s why I can relate to the young man in this passage. By all accounts, he was an upstanding citizen. He lived a moral life and he tried very hard to be an example. If he could have had accomplishment bars, they would have been hanging on his trophy wall. However, there seems to have been something niggling at the back of his mind; a question as to whether he was doing enough. Hence, he asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what shall I do so that I may inherit eternal life?”. He wanted to make sure he had all his bases covered and was crossing off all the boxes on his religious scorecard.
Notice, Jesus didn’t argue with the young man about his accomplishments, but He addressed the interior of the man’s heart. Outwardly, the young man was a great guy, but inwardly what ruled his life was something else: materialism. In today’s world, the man would have possessed the best house on the block, the sleekest car, designer clothes, influential friends, and a huge bank account. He was willing to obey God outwardly but his internal love for God took a distant second to his love for his treasury.
It is remarkable that Jesus “looked on this man with compassion”. Jesus understood the chains that bound this man’s heart. Jesus didn’t condemn him. He just gave the young man the key to unlock what imprisoned him. The solution was not earn one more merit badge or buy one more item. The solution was to let go of what he treasured and to follow Jesus. Sadly, the young man treasured his connection with his stuff more than his interconnection with God. His treasury not only contained his wealth, but it also imprisoned his heart. The young man counted the cost and he “left sad”.
David Wallace Foster, (ironically a staunch atheist), said this about worship: “There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.”
So, the question is, what do you worship? What calls the shots in your life? Are you trying to earn one more merit bar? Own one more property? Get one more promotion? Have an additional person call you “awesome”? Or are you willing to place all these wants and desires at the feet of Jesus and come follow Him? Don’t be the young man who “was deeply dismayed by these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.”