Imagine that someone came up to you and told you that, to be a truly faithful Christian and to inherit eternal life, you needed to give up your job, sell your house and the rest of your possessions, give all your money to the poor, say goodbye to your closest friends and family, and then go serve and suffer for Christ wherever and in whatever way he deems best.
How would you respond to such a person? Would you think him well-meaning but naïve? Maybe a dangerous legalist? Or even someone mentally unstable?
Poignantly, the above is essentially what Jesus asks of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22. Jesus’ request is made even more difficult for this young man by the fact that the man “was one who owned much property.” We are perhaps quick to regard Jesus’ demand of this man as simply a special case. We think, “This man was covetous and idolized his wealth, so that’s why Jesus placed such a heavy requirement on him. Jesus is not asking all Christians to make such a sacrifice, right?”
It’s true that Jesus knew exactly how to address this man’s love of comfort and possessions, yet that does not mean that Jesus didn’t or doesn’t give similarly radical calls to others. Consider that Jesus specifically called other disciples the same way, as the twelve even testify (Mk 1:17; 2:14; Mt 8:22; Mk 10:28). Jesus also repeatedly stressed that his true followers are those who give up their earthly wealth to gain treasure in heaven (Lk 12:33-34; 16:9-13), give up their closest relationships to have a saving relationship with Jesus (Lk 14:26, Mt 10:32-37), and even give themselves over to death for Jesus’ sake to find eternal life (Mt 10:38-39; Mk 8:34-38).
As our guest missionary Brian Shortmeier reminded us on Sunday, every Christian life is to be one of simple yet radical faith. In coming to Jesus in true repentance, we have already given over to him every treasure of our lives. Consequently, when his word and Spirit prompt us to lose any of those earthly treasures for the sake of Christ and the gospel, we gladly do so. Jesus is worthy of nothing less! And he promises us a great reward for doing so. After all, how does Hebrews 11:6 describe faith?
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Therefore, whether you are an elder, deacon, missionary, or simple Christian, do not be afraid to live out a courageous faith in your Lord. Such is really what it means to be a Christian, and, whatever you give up for the Lord, know that you will receive many times as much in him (Mk 10:29-30; Rom 8:18).
Questions to Consider:
1. Is something currently preventing you from going “all-in” in serving Christ? What should you do with that hindrance?
2. What is the difference between courageous faith and foolish recklessness?
3. How does the Bible’s commendation of enjoyment of God’s gifts in this life (1 Tim 4:4; 6:17) fit with the call to radical and sacrificial living?