"And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing..." Mark 10:21In your worldview, how is the win gained?
- Money for performance?
- Fame for performance?
- Plaudits for performance?
- Autonomy for performance?
A heaven for good people, for the deserving?
Worldviews that depend on these sort of pathways to winning force us to strive... lead elite athletes to cheat.. and to believe that the end justifies the means.
The question was asked of Jesus (Mark 10v17) – how do I inherit eternal life? Or, How do I win?
(A question for a different post is: what is the win?)
Jesus looks at him, loves him, and speaks. There's one thing that's necessary. He should sell all his stuff. Not because you can sell your stuff to gain this, but because it exposes the one thing he can’t let go of. What’s the one thing Jesus wouldn’t be able to put his finger on in your life? To have your heart he’d want your heart – would you trust him with your life? Could you? It could be money, it could be power, for the vast majority in our culture it’s sexuality --- we’ve come to hold sexual freedom as the great untouchable ‘god’ of our age…
As Jesus looks at us in love from the pages of Mark's gospel we probably know what he'd bring up. We know the one thing we don't think he should mention. We know the areas where we'd be sensitive. The subjects where we've prepared our answers to justify continuing on. Sure others should change but not I?
Jesus reflects V23 – how difficult it is for winners… how difficult for the rich… how difficult for the … V23, v24 – impossible, even.
Some have looked at the camel through the eye of the needle reference here and thought it means there was a gate – the Needle Gate in Jerusalem that you had to bow very low to get through… i.e. really difficult but possible. But the reaction of Jesus’ friends says he’s talking about something impossible… the only way to get a camel through the eye of a needle, if you’ll forgive the vulgarity of this, is via a blender… it just can’t be done…
It is impossible for people…. But possible for God. For students in our city - at the 93rd best Uni in the world… Top 10 in the UK. The soundtrack of life is possibility. You can do everything! Yes we can! The world is your oyster and so on. The Disney dream – to search for the hero inside yourself. The American Dream. The Story of Progress.
And in challenging that I want to tread really carefully because that story is so deep rooted in the hearts of people in our culture. We gain so much of our sense of safety, of meaning, of identity, of purpose, from being better than those before us and from what we can, will or might achieve in life. The Christian faith dares to say: You can’t and You don’t have to. Not to go against making a difference in this world --- do all you can for the good of this world, but Jesus warns against this being where we find sustenance.
Jesus' loving look resulted in a man being disheartened. It's so hard to let his love win our hearts, for his greater affection to displace what we've previously given our lives to, to say no to everything we've ever believed we're entitled to, for the sake He who gives up all he has to give himself for and to us as a ransom (10v45).
How is the win gained? Jesus says – we can’t win. The only way is for him to win for us. A substitute in our place. A saviour in our inability, apathy and disinterest. Can you entrust yourselves to him? Ahead of the gods you treasure in the deepest darkest depths of your hearts? To become trophies of his grace. It comes down to a question of love: would I have Jesus ahead of anythig else? There's an exclusivity to the way of Jesus - you only get Jesus if you want Jesus... but also a radical inclusivity - anyone can have Jesus, not just winners, anyone who wants him.
Image: Creative Commons - Brad K.