Jesus Didn't Really Mean that, Right?
I heard a story the other day about a 7 year old boy, let’s call him Alex, who was eating a bag of chips when his friend joined him at the lunch table. Alex had grown up in a home that always taught him to share, to be generous, and to not be selfish. With this in mind, Alex knew that the right thing to do was to offer some of his chips to his friend who had just sat down with him. One problem: Alex really wanted to eat all of his chips. They were his favorite-- sour cream and onion potato chips-- but Alex knew that the right thing to do was to offer some chips to his friend. So, Alex held out the chips and said to his friend, “you don’t want any of this chips, right? That’s what I thought.”
One time, when Jesus was talking to a rich man who was wondering how to inherit eternal life. This is what he told the man:
“Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” - Mark 10:21
I bet that many people have heard these words before and I bet that when these words get brought up in churches and Bible Studies and in blog posts most people hear these instructions and then try and find a way around Jesus' directions.
I’m guessing that most of us hear these words from Jesus and we treat it like Alex with his bag of chips. “Jesus doesn’t really want me to sell everything, right?” This seems to be how we always react when Jesus starts to talk about money. We know exactly what Christ is asking of us, but we find ways to only half-follow the expectations.
Jesus asks us to completely let go of our attachment to money, to give it all away in order to help others. When we hear this, most of us will be filled with anxiety because we can't even imagine giving away even a little bit more money. And yet, doesn't this reaction illustrate just how much trust we put in money? Jesus asks us to let go of this attachment and we're immediately terrified because we find security in our money.
And that's why Jesus asks us to let go of it; because we think that our security is based on having money. But Jesus knows that this type of relationship with money will always disappoint us. Jesus wants us to find security and to put our faith in him over and above everything else.
So let's stop making excuses, let's stop trying to find ways around Jesus' words and instead let's simply embrace the new way of life Jesus is inviting us into. A new way of life where our faith, security and well-being rests not in money, but in Jesus.
May we learn to let go and trust Christ more. Amen.