I am currently reading the book, Radical by David Platt and was discussing it with a friend of mine yesterday. As we spoke, we brought up the question, "Is the United States, including ourselves, the Rich Young Ruler?" The story is found in all the synoptic gospels, but I will put the version found in Matthew.
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 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.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
As I was sitting with my friend yesterday speaking to him we were speaking about this very issue in Scripture. We were wondering if we, as the United States, were the rich young ruler. We would do anything for the gospel, besides sell all of our belongings. We would speak about the gospel to our friends, we would feed the poor, go to the prisons, visit orphans, travel overseas, but as soon as someone were to tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor, we cry out legalism. But, what if we are actually the rich young ruler? Think about this. The rich young ruler seemingly did many good things, as Jesus didn't refute the ruler's claims on keeping the commandments, etc. But, as soon as the Christ called out the true idol of the ruler's heart, the man went away sorrowful because he had much. Notice that Jesus didn't say, "Go and invade the culture you are in and speak to them about the gospel. Stay rich, and reach your rich friends." That is quite scary when you think of it.
I work in the investment portfolio business. I work with only very rich people. I make a very good living. The question is, "Would I sell everything I have if God called me to do so?" Or, would I make excuses on why I should never do that and go away sorrowful because I have many possessions?
I honestly don't know the answers to these questions that I am asking above, but I wonder about us in the West. I wonder if we truly are the rich young ruler. I also wonder if we are also those that Jesus speaks about in Luke 9:5...
"And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”
I know I have harped on this before, but one of my buddies quoted a missiologist that said that there are only two places in the world that aren't progressing in the gospel:
The United States and Europe
Is this because we have become all about ourselves and not about the true calling of the gospel to make our lives a living sacrifice, to take up our crosses, to deny ourselves? Is this happening because we have become about making larger and nicer buildings, about how much our church is "growing" or should I say stealing members from other churches? Is this because we care more about telling others about our church, than Jesus?
I wonder what would happen if Jesus told a church as a whole to sell their buildings, stop paying pastors, sell all their belongings and give it all to the poor? (don't read that I think paying pastors and having buildings for gatherings are wrong or sin)
Call me a legalist if you want, but that's not the point of the post. The point is to just simply ask some questions in regards to our love of Jesus verses our love for ourselves.
I know that the one thing that everyone will harp on is simply, "but if we sold all these things, especially our buildings and houses, how would God reach the people?" I don't know. But, if God does tell us to do so, don't we think that God is so much in control that he might, he just might, have a plan for his glory? Jesus said he didn't have a place to lay his head...seems like he was still pretty productive...just sayin'
I know this squashes the American Dream, but maybe some of this needs to happen for people to see we are counter cultural and not just another health and wealth Christian hiding in the clothes of a true follower of Jesus.
Consider Your Calling
5 hours ago