Tuesday Reflections – Matthew 19:13-30

MATTHEW 19:13-30

13 One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off.14 But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.”15 After laying hands on them, he left.16 Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”17 Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”

18 The man asked, “What in particular?” 

Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie,19 honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”20 The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”21 “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”22 That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.23 As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom?24 Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”25 The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”26 Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”27 Then Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?”28 Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel.29 And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life.30 This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first. 

I love the way that Eugene Peterson expresses v. 25-26 in The Message.  In this season of my faith journey there has been a recurring theme… I am in over my head.  For much of my life I have prided myself in being capable of doings lots of different things well.  I've never been great at anything, but I am good at a lot of things.  That in itself is not a bad thing, but it has presented a particular challenge to me throughout my life and ministry.  This might sound strange because I believe that the things that I am good at (my talents) are a gift from God.  I want to use my ability to express my love for and service to God,  but far too often I have leaned too heavily on what I am good at (or at least competent in) to get by and even, "succeed."  What I am discovering, however, is only ever doing what I can do has required very little faith.  It doesn't take much trust to do something you know you can pull off yourself if need be.  So, until recently I have rarely ever put myself out there in such a way that has required me to trust that God is who he says is and that he can (and will) do what he says he will do.  When I first hit the ground here in Charlotte to plant graceway my supervisor told me, "Brian, the sooner you realize you are in way over your head the better."  I wasn't quite sure how to take this, because in all of my interviews and schooling and preparation for this call most of what I had to do was prove what I can do.  Maybe the kind of question I should have been asked is something like, "What are you willing to do that you know you cannot do apart from God?"  The reality is that my call to plant graceway church is an expression of how God is prompting me to live in to (and live out) the Kingdom of God that is coming (and has come) in Jesus.  So as I ask the question, "What chance do I have?"  The honest answer is,

“No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”

I can certainly use my God-given gifts and talents (and I should), but ultimately this and everything else in life come downs to trusting that God can (and will) do what I can't.  This is about God, not me.  He isn't just some stop gap measure for my weaknesses… God is IT!  God will build his Church.  Entering the Kingdom of God isn't about me doing what I can and trusting God with the rest.  It is about trusting God with EVERYTHING.

Jesus, set me free from the burden of trying to do this on my own.  I can't do it, but you can.  Give me the courage to join with you in the work YOU are doing.    

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