Welcome to Friday’s Foundations Podcast. All this week we’ve been considering what life is like in the kingdom of God. What does it really mean to allow God to influence, to shape our daily lives? On Monday, we heard that we enter God’s kingdom – through the gift of faith made available to us through Jesus. Yesterday, we learned that this means coming to God like little children – totally reliant on Him as our heavenly Father. And on Tuesday and Wednesday, we looked practically at how we live differently as God’s kingdom extends in our lives. We wrap this week up by asking the question: Do we want to continue to grow?
Today’s passage is another of Jesus’ famous parables. You can hear it read in full at the end of this podcast. I want to focus on verse 21:
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
We are God’s children and his desire is that we grow spiritually. We come to him as little children but as we continue to allow him to shape our lives we end up reaching the point of maturity, we are made complete. That’s what the word ‘perfect’ means here. Jesus says – If you want to be perfect, it’s simple – sell all your possessions, give it all away and come and follow me!
This incredible revelation from Jesus comes in the middle of this famous parable which is really asking one important question – How do we grow? How can we really know God? This man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus talks about eternal life – he talks about knowing God fully. St Paul writes much the same to the Corinthian church – what we see in part, we shall know fully. What does it mean to know God fully? How do we get to that point?
When Jesus spoke about how we reach ‘eternal life’… he talked about it like this. There are essentially two paths we can go down. Two ways in which we can live our lives. One path is wide, it’s easy going, most people go down it but ultimately it leads to nowhere. The other is much narrower, rockier, and more difficult to navigate, few find it but that path, that gate leads to life – this eternal life. To knowing God fully. The point at which we are made perfect! We are complete.
This man asks Jesus, ‘What must I do to get to that point?’ Jesus’ answer is this… Sell all your possessions and give to the poor and then come and follow me. We read that this man went away sad – grieving because he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t accept that.
This man couldn’t walk the narrow path, he wouldn’t allow God to lead him. He was carrying too much with him. Jesus explains this by saying later on in the passage that it’s hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. This word ‘hard’ gets across the idea that it’s like trying to push something too wide down a narrow pathway. It’s too difficult! For that man money was the blockage – the acquisition of it, the status it brought him, the hold it had over him – that carried more weight than knowing God. He wanted the new life but wouldn’t give up the old.
And therein lies the heart of what it means to grow spiritually. Grow is something that God wants us to do. Mick, our team leader here at STC, will speak on the Podcasts next week and he’ll be speaking about purpose. I don’t want to give too much away but I know that this word ‘grow’ will probably feature heavily in it! Do tune in for that.
God desires that we grow. That we allow him to continue to shape and influence our lives. The question we are faced with today is: Do we want to continue to grow? How can we continue to let Jesus lead us down the narrow path? Is there a blockage that’s caused us to get stuck in our walk with God? Is it our attitude to money? Jesus spoke an awful lot about that. It’s at the heart of this parable. Maybe it’s a behaviour – something we are doing which we know we shouldn’t? Perhaps our relationship with others? Maybe it’s fear about the future?
God wants us to grow. He wants us to know him fully. He wants to lead us down that narrow path. The question is: will let him lead us there? What do we need to let go of today in order to embrace more of the life God has for us? Where do we need to say today – ‘Not my way God, but yours’? To do what David asks God to do – To search our hearts, to see if there is any offensive way in us and leads us in the way everlasting.
Today, and in the days ahead, let this chorus from a well-known worship song be our prayer – as we commit ourselves to the ways of Jesus – the one who enables us to grow.
“I let go of all I have just to have more of you. And no matter what the cost I will follow you. Jesus everything I’ve lost I have found in you. When I finally reach the end I’ll say – you are worth it all.”
You are indeed worth it all God. Lead us on this day we pray. Amen.
READING: Matthew 19:16-30
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’
‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’
‘Which ones?’ he enquired.
Jesus replied, ‘“You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,” and “love your neighbour as yourself.”’
‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’
Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to 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 someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’
Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’
Peter answered him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’
Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.