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13th September 2015
We want to grow a healthy church. We know we have a responsibility (and a delight!) to focus on things that make us a healthy as we can be. We want to see God's Kingdom expand from one neighbourhood to the next.
We want to see people come to know Jesus, be healed and set free and transformed. As a church, we are focusing on making disciples, going on mission, and caring for the poor. Today we're looking at the first of these three: making disciples.
In Mark's gospel we read of a rich young ruler who comes to Jesus to ask what he needs to do to inherit eternal life (10:17-22). The young man had kept God's commandments and was a local politician. The Bible tells us that Jesus looked at him and loved him, but saw that he had an idol in his life that he wouldn't give up.
Being a Christian isn't predominantly about attending church or being good or stopping bad habits or doing good works. The heart of it is about following Jesus Christ, and it costs everything. Ultimately the rich young ruler didn't believe that what Jesus offered was of greater worth than the possessions that he owned.
Jesus wasn't being hard on him. Jesus loved him and wanted him to come through, but He realised that there was something else on the throne of his life that meant there was no room for Jesus. The man cared more for his possessions than he did for knowing Jesus. He didn't believe that Jesus was of greater value.
Don't misunderstand the story: it's not about emptying your bank account; it's about what is the most important thing to you. Being a disciple is saying that every idol I've given myself to, I smash, I get rid of them, so I might go on this adventure of following Christ and that He might have first place in my affections, my time and my energy.
An idol is something in your life that isn't God but that you couldn't conceive living without. Idols come in all shapes and sizes. The average college student in America spends nine hours on their smartphone every day. We live in a world where we just have to be connected.
If you went for a week without looking at your smartphone, would you have more withdrawal symptoms than if you went without your looking at Bible?
What is it for you? Maybe it's money and possessions. You're happy following Jesus as long as your money is off limits to Him. Maybe it's what you watch on TV, or your sexuality or sex life, maybe it's your comfort. For me comfort is a big one – "Ok Jesus, I'll follow you to the cross, as long as it's not too uncomfortable!" Another one is success – we are happy to follow Jesus as long as it leads to being successful.
When Jesus approached this young man, He loved him, but He knew there was an idol there. Jesus didn't give people an easy way in: following Him costs everything. You don't have to be good, you don't have to be sinless, you don't have to be all sorted – but you do have to give Him your heart. Jesus made no apologies for the big ask.
What areas are there in your life that are 'no go' for Christ?
Posted by Paul Mann