Friday, October 16, 2009

"Lighten The Load", by Pastor Kevin Lynch

I don't like self-definition, having to be "nailed down" on an issue, or being pigeonholed into a certain system of organized thought and purpose. I tend to be more free-wheeling in my approach on anything, preferring to keep open my options to change my thoughts and ideals in case I missed or misinterpreted something along the way.

However I do consider myself sort of a non-religious bible literalist, if that makes any sense to anyone else but me.

Even then I need to leave a little room.


Jesus has a confrontation with a person popularly described as "the rich young ruler" in the New Testament.

I shudder to think of some of the wacked out and plain nutty interpretations people have walked away from that passage with.

I myself have struggled with it for years. Fluctuating back and forth, to and fro, mostly on where to place the "tension" on the verse, as well as what in the world Jesus was really telling this guy.

More importantly, what in the world is He trying to tell us, because we better get that straight if we are going to follow and trust Him!

Luke 18: 22 - 23: "And when Jesus heard it, He said to him, One thing you still lack. Sell everything that you have and divide [the money] among the poor, and you will have [rich] treasure in heaven; and come back [and] follow Me [become My disciple, join My party, and accompany Me]. (23) But when he heard this, he became distressed and very sorrowful, for he was rich--exceedingly so."

Ok. Where do you place the tension (the importance) of this passage?

On the young man's lack? His overabundance? Jesus' instruction? The young man's inability to obey?

So much to consider in two short verses.

Often, perhaps most often, people tend to focus in on Jesus' instruction to the young man to liquidate his estate, give it away, and then come and follow Him. I think that is reasonable, since we always want to hear what Jesus suggests to us.

The following verses even have Jesus explaining to His disciples how hard it is for a person of wealth to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

But, if it is so reasonable and easy to agree with Jesus about simply giving away everything we own as a prerequisite to becoming a disciple of Jesus, then why the struggle?

Because if we take into consideration all who have done that over the centuries, and how that instruction translates over into the modern era, it doesn't take an Alan Greenspan to figure out it simply doesn't work.

What it has succeeded in accomplishing is a destructive religious spirit and a false piety which has served to reduce the church to place that Jesus never intended it to be.

What's the alternative to liquidating everything we own today? Go on the public dole ourselves and become the recipient rather than the benefactor? Go and live in the desert renouncing everything that is bad with humanity and society, becoming reduced to hermitic or monastic silence?

It's scary to think about how many people have taken Jesus' words to mean that without weighing the consequence of that understanding until we get backed against the wall and realize that dog won't hunt.

Not today. Not then.

So what was Jesus really saying?

He was saying "lighten the load".

Think about it.

Is it really about material things? Well sure, partially. If your stuff gets in the way of following Jesus than does it really does have to go? Or do you need to shift where your importance is focused?

Jesus had nothing against the man for being rich.

He has something against people who He knows will never be able to follow Him properly because the riches get in the way.

We have to learn to read Him reading others.

We need to get His perspective on life and living. Here and after.

Otherwise what's the alternative?

Trying to obey rules and regulations we think He is laying down which we can see no possible way in accomplishing? (What's the alternative to selling your home, cars, quitting your job, emptying your bank account?).

Just trust Jesus?

My wife and I and four children did exactly that almost 20 years ago when we sold our home, quit our jobs, and moved to Colorado to go to school to prepare for ministry. Yes, we trusted Jesus that much. Did we live in the desert? No, we found jobs and were able to live in a better home than we sold. We actually lived a better quality of life than before.

Yes, trusting Jesus works.

Let's be real here folks (keep it real).

I'm all for giving it all away as long as we can keep the host generator of that wealth functional and prosperous. In other words, we need wealth healthy people in the Kingdom, but what hinders them being in the Kingdom is their inability to follow Jesus properly because of their wealth.

Paradoxical? Catch 22? Nah. Makes perfect sense.

Jesus is really saying it's a heart issue. Since He looks past the obvious and reads the purpose of one's heart, He can diagnose each person individually and make a decision.

This story is not just about getting rid of your overabundance of stuff, becoming poor and feeding others who are poor.

It's not a sweeping indictment of the wealthy. Don't lump the good in with the Enron/AIG/ etc. debacle.

It's about lightening your load of whatever it is that needs to be lessened or gone altogether that keeps you from joining with Jesus.

Sure it might be your affluence. It could also be your lousy attitude. Your anger. Your addictions.

You can't be everything to Jesus until everything is placed at His disposal for His good use.


Following Him now, on earth, even if it means some inconvenience, has far greater value over the course of the eternal, than anything we could ever gain and stubbornly hold onto in this life.

Be blessed today! Follow Him!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

No comments:

Post a Comment