He wants our obedience because we love him, not because we want his resources.
I ask a lot of questions. Always have. Sometimes I ask them out loud and sometimes I just ponder them on my own. I ask questions because I am confused. I ask questions because I have a differing opinion. I ask questions just out of curiosity. And other, less proud times, I selfishly ask questions to be affirmed that I am doing it right already.
The man we meet in Mark 10 asks Jesus a question like the latter. The man asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Simple enough. Seems straightforward. But we don’t really see why until Jesus responds.
Paraphrasing, Jesus responds that this man already knows the answer. Jesus reminds him of commands while the young man grins, looking around nudging his neighbor because each thing that Jesus says, he has done.
Do you ever do that? I think I do. Even with Jesus. I ask him for something with ulterior motives. The man asking Jesus this question wasn’t concerned about eternal life. He was concerned about himself. He was interested in protecting himself and his resources in the future and so he did the things of God without the heart of God.
We do this too. We put the cart before the horse in a sense. Our actions are the right ones, but our intentions are not. We go to church to seem put together. We help a neighbor so we don’t feel guilty. And I know in my life, I can turn my faith into a checklist. But God wants our hearts. He wants our desires. He wants our obedience because we love him, not because we want his resources. My dad always says that we have to reorient our lives to understand that Jesus IS this treasure.
Jesus’ response has a way of cutting through the question. You see, the man went away sad after Jesus’ response. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
You see, we tend to look at eternity as the future but that is a false perspective. Eternity is actually just the absence of an ending and a beginning. God is eternal because he has no beginning or end. An eternal perspective is not limited to the future. But we sometimes try to make it that way. The only problem is that it creates a life that chases after status or possessions or respect or security.
When the man asked about eternal life, Jesus’ response was that HE HIMSELF was eternal and so being WITH Jesus is inheriting eternal life. And man, I would love to live with Jesus in eternity. Even if it means giving up the things that presently provide safety, power, or status.