The Rich Young Ruler

Text: Mt 19:16 - 24


Standard story - rich young ruler as the bad guy
Out of touch with reality
Doesn't see the greatness of the Christ
Misses the offer
Loves his money and position more than Jesus
We have been encouraged to think of ourselves as being with Jesus against the ruler

Who was this young man

Upper middle class
A good jew
Attempting to be righteous

In today's terms

Son of parents who both work - combined salary of about $120K
Parents been members of the church for 20 or 30 years
He is now around 18 yrs.
Both he and his parents are good church people
He has been brought up to do all the right things - has his quiet time, prayer and bible reading
Member of the youth group and regularly attends both church and bible study.
He just feels that despite all this there should be something more.

Does the picture sound familiar?

Here he is talking to Jesus about something more and the question that strikes me is "where are the parents?"

This guy is here and he is asking, the parents don't even get to the question.


Being comfortable

We like being comfortable.
We like dealing with the expected.
We like to draw a box around what we will do.
We like to know the cost of our commitment before making it.
We like to limit that cost to what we can easily afford.

It is sad because my reading of the bible shows nothing saying that we are called to be comfortable

The pictures I see both in the lives of the disciples and in the imagery used suggest the opposite.

From Paul talking about pummeling his body to make it fit to serve to Jesus calling us to take up, each one of us, a cross to follow him.

From Paul whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned to Christ on the cross.

Brittle theology

The challenge to the young man went beyond that of commitment to what he believed.

Question: who decides what we believe?

Most of what you believe someone taught you

The rest you decided based on what you were taught.

Who taught you?

Was that person fallible or infallible

What we believe is an amalgum of the words of preachers, teachers, Sunday school teachers, writers and people around us.

If we take what we believe and place it next to what God believes about the same things how much correspondance will there be?

There are two things among others that I invest myself in :one is the development and application of theology and the other is teaching.

I have been doing this for over 20 years and I have to say that with my best effort and best ability that my beliefs and my theology are wrong.

They are wrong

As a man I don't have the ability to create pure theology and my expression of that theology is worse.

The young man was challenged on what He believed.

He had been brought up to believe that what he had to do was be a good jew

He had to keep the commandments

He had to do the Passover thing

He had to do the sacrifice thing and so on

Jesus placed before him a demand that went beyond that understanding, that belief.

This was outrageous, it challenged what he believed to be right and proper

When we are challenged in our beliefs what do we do?

Often we have to make a choice between what we believe and God.

This was the case with the young man - he could continue to act in his beliefs or he could follow Jesus.

It sounds absurd but our beliefs are often our greatest idols.

I want to walk in the place where my beliefs are something that enables me to better serve God, but something that God is constantly illuminating, challenging and changing.


Where are we today

In the comfort zone where God can't reach us?

Holding onto to beliefs that obscure God rather than revealing him