Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’” The man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich. Luke 18:18-23(NLT)
We have the center of the reason for this story when we hear Jesus ask the rich young man WHY he called Jesus “good”. The young man was not looking for information, he wanted rationalization! He wanted back-up for that which he already believed, that he was a good man, who did good stuff, and therefore he could relax from all his worry that it wasn’t enough. He wanted some assurance that God was on his side, but He believed what he wanted to believe, and challenged Jesus (or anybody else) to say otherwise.
There’s another story Jesus didn’t tell, but it makes the same point. A man believed he was dead. He drove his co-workers, neighbors and family crazy with this idea, but nobody could shake his belief; unconvinced, he knew was dead!
The man’s wife took him to a psychiatrist, who used every technique he knew to convince the man he was still alive…but to no avail…the man considered himself dead!
Finally the psychiatrist asked the man, do dead men bleed?
The patient looked at him and said, of course not; they’re dead!
With that the shrink took a needle and pricked the man’s arm, which started to bleed profusely. Smiling, the doc asked the cornered patient, well, then, if you’re dead, how do you explain that?
Totally surprised, staring at his profusely bleeding arm, the man answered:
Well, I’ll be; a dead man really does bleed!
People ask lots of questions without really wanting an answer that goes against their preconceived beliefs:
How could a loving God send people to Hell?
If God really loves me, why did He let this bad thing happen to me?
Why doesn’t God do something about all the hungry people?
For the most part that kind of question doesn’t look for an answer that will straighten-out our thinking; it’s more like the question the rich young ruler asked – the question of unbelief looking for a comfortable corner from which to criticize or escape responsibility.
The questions are a little worse than foolish; they’re attempts to put God on the hook for our responsibility. After all, He did do something about all the hungry people – he gave us food, and he gave us hands to offer that food. And he gave us a conscience to let us know what we’re supposed to do.
You won’t be able to save everybody in the world today. But you can start with saving yourself from asking WHY God does or doesn’t, and start asking WHAT I can and must do.