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Don't Miss the Joy

Don't Miss the Joy

We are all familiar with the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19.  He was, by his own account, a very faithful Jew, following all of the commandments.  But he knew that there was still something missing in his life, so he asks Jesus, “What do I still lack?”

And Jesus tells him to sell all that he has, give it to the poor and come “follow me.”

The young man walks away sad “because he had great wealth.”

This story is often discussed in the context of either the problem of wealth or the cost of not being willing to do everything or give everything for Jesus.  And I believe the usual assumption is that the young man never comes to faith in Jesus.  While all of that may be true, I think we miss the more important point.

There is nothing in the story (or later in the Gospels) to tell us what ultimately happens to this young man.  We have no idea if he ever comes to faith in Christ or not.  All we know is that when he first learns what it will cost him to follow Jesus, he walks away sad.  But there is nothing to tell us that this is the end of the story.  

And there is nothing by way of condemnation in Jesus’ remarks.  If anything, there is a wistful compassion.  “It’s hard for a wealthy man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Really hard.  Impossibly hard.”  But then when pressed by the disciples he tells them, “All things are possible with God.”  The story ends on a very hopeful note.

However his story ultimately ends, one thing is certain; the rich young man misses out on joy.  He arrives burdened . . . “what do I still lack” . . . and he leaves burdened, trapped if you will in his wealth; unable to lay that down for the thing that he desires.  It’s impossible to imagine him sitting joyfully with family and friends later that day.  He missed the joy.

How many of us at some point in our life have walked away from following Jesus because the cost was too high?  Probably, if we are honest, most of us.  And no matter how thankful we are to have been allowed back, to have found our faith in Christ, we carry the scars of having missed joy in the interim.

Don’t miss the joy.  Jesus doesn’t call us to be his employees who do good things for him and his kingdom as a part of our life.  Jesus calls us to be children whose only concern is to enjoy being with him with reckless abandon.  That’s why he tells us we have to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven.  In fact, twice in Matthew immediately before the story of the rich young man, Jesus tells his disciples to become like little children.  It’s adult burdens we need to set aside, to abandon, to enter into Christ’s joy. 

At the end of the day, most of us think more highly of ourselves than we should, work too hard, worry too much, and sing and dance and play too little.  In doing so we miss the joy.  If you would like to become more child-like in ways Jesus would approve, perhaps drop some of the things you are doing and come play with us at Berean!  Despite the stresses and pressures and occasional sorrows of life, our students are overwhelmingly joyful and it tends to rub off on us when we let it!  Don’t miss the joy!

Bob Fry - Director of Development

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