As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?"
Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat, honor your father and mother."
He said, "Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!"
Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, "There's one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me."
The man's face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who 'have it all' to enter God's kingdom?" The disciples couldn't believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: "You can't imagine how difficult. I'd say it's easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for the rich to get into God's kingdom."
That set the disciples back on their heels. "Then who has any chance at all?" they asked.
Jesus was blunt: "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it."
Peter tried another angle: "We left everything and followed you."
Jesus said, "Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They'll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first."
He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
There it is.
That’s the one.
It breaks me.
So many of us want to grow in our faith and advance in our relationship with God but we are holding on tight to a lot of things,
…and not about to let go.
We try desperately to make our lives work. Control is an illusion. It might be the greatest illusion that we have bought into. We do not control anything. The hard truth is that we live in a world that is bigger than us. Every day we walk through this life and try to control everything around us.
It won’t work.
Security and comfort are some of our highest values if we are honest with ourselves. Feeling as though everything is settled and under our control is what many of us strive for.
“If I get this raise…”
“If I get this promotion…”
“If I had this thing…”
“If I was with this person…”
“If my bank account balance was this much…”
Then you know what? You’d still want more.
It’s all an illusion. It’s a mist that doesn’t really exist. The search for control, security, and comfort is a game that we play that has no end. It is merely a spiral into the depths of discontentment.
The fact of the matter is that for us to find these things we must let them go.
Paul wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
What’s the secret that Paul learned? The secret is that he stopped thinking of himself. He put his ego to death and set his soul on Christ. He was able to learn to be content in all things because he knew that he could trust that the immediate contentment of his present circumstance was fleeting and so was the pain. He couldn’t control, orchestrate, or plan his way to comfort and security. Paul simply learned to trust. He trusted Christ through the people of God.
I think that’s the other thing about this. When you try to control everything you think you can do it on your own. But, we are called to be an interdependent people. We need one another. To know Christ, to engage with Christ, to trust Christ, is to trust his body. The body of Christ are the people around you seeking to live the Christ way.
I confess, I like to control it all. All the things. I don’t like not controlling them. It’s hard to trust people and hard to trust Christ. Yet, when I do, it’s so worth it. There is a deep joy in relinquishing control and knowing that Christ through his body will care for me.
The freedom of not being in control is overwhelming.
Try it sometime.
It turns out that when we stop trying so hard we just might find the kingdom of God.