It is so easy to try to seek fulfillment and satisfaction in what the world offers, but there is a better way. Jesus offers it to us.
Instead of living for more from the culture, we live for more of Him. Instead of surrendering time, money, and effort to temporary fads and quick-fixes, we surrender our lives to Him. Such was an offer Christ gave to a young man in Mark 10.
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (verses 17-22)
I don’t know how many dozens of times I have read this portion of Scripture, but I must confess that I was totally blind to its point for the longest time.
For years, I would read this passage with a twinge of dread. How could Jesus really ask this man to give up so much? How can you just meet a guy on the street and say, “Hey, buddy, cast off everything you know and love, then come and follow Me.” Talk about hard core! Can’t we build up to this Jesus? You seem to be moving a little too quickly here.
Again, I was missing the point.
This story is not about what that man had to give up. Not even close. This story is about what that man stood to gain. Jesus was giving this individual a choice. “You can either choose all that temporary stuff that will leave you unfulfilled in the end, or you can choose Me. You can choose quick-fixes and fleeting happiness or eternal satisfaction and continual fulfillment.” In the end, that rich guy was able to keep all of his stuff, but what he lost was far more valuable.
Did you find it odd that the Bible says that this man went away sad? Wasn’t he going back to all his cool stuff? Wasn’t he getting to keep it all? Why so sad then? Perhaps, deep down, he understood. What he was going back to could not compare to what he was giving up. Yet, even knowing that, he could not bring himself to turn around and fall at Jesus’ feet a second time.
Perhaps, like us, our friend from Mark 10 was taught to identify happiness with things. Maybe it was engrained in him to believe that every new video game would bring happiness, every blockbuster movie was a “must-see,” every new fashion, every new electronic gadget, every new whatever was the key to happiness. It is possible he bought into all of that and more. And as he did, the further he moved away from what life was really all about.
Life is not measured by how much you have. It is not measured by the temporary stuff of this world, nor by those things that give only transient pleasure while offering no long-term solutions.
No, life is measured by something else entirely. It is measured by how much of your life (time, talent, money, effort) is invested in Christ.
This is truly the key to satisfaction, so we'll talk more about this next time.