Thursday, February 18, 2016

Daily Devotional: February 18

Papyrus manuscript of a section from Matthew 19, 350 AD. 
Week 4, Day 4, The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 19

To be honest, I have read this passage of scripture so many times that I have a tendency to breeze over sections of it without absorbing all of it. Today I had to slow down and chew on several words I hadn't wrestled with before. I hope this walk through the Gospel of Matthew is allowing you time to do the same. Slow down when you read Jesus' words, they are important. 

Jesus is approached by an important young man. Some translations call him a "rich young ruler" and some a "rich young man," but it is obvious the people in the crowd would have thought this person was important. The young man asks Jesus "What good things must I do to get eternal life?"

Why do you ask me about what is good?

Jesus' answer is confusing. The more I thought about it this morning, the more I see myself in the face of the young man. When we think about God in polarities "good vs. bad," then we are quick to desire to do the good things we think will please God. The more we retreat into tribalism, the more we seek to "do good" and surround ourselves with others who "do good" all for the desire to be loved by God--and to separate ourselves from those who aren't--the more we miss the point. 

The young man's motivation was to please a god he had created who needed him to follow a list of rules, to be better than others, and to constantly strive to keep the god's favor. His view of God was too small and Jesus used him as an example.  Jesus' question points to the motivation of the young man.

Why do you ask me about what is good?

Jesus gives the man what he wanted. He tells him a further list of things to do, things the young man will never be able to do. None of us can accomplish that list. It's hard for a rich person to do this because they have a high desire to accomplish, to gain, to "earn." The God Jesus shows us cares so little about how well we accomplish, gain, or earn anything that it is rendered useless in light of His Grace. 

There is only One who is good, and He loves unconditionally. No matter what. No matter how hard you work, or how much money you make, or who your dad knows. This is madness to those of us who come from a culture of work, earning, and success. We define things by how well they are made. We define ourselves by how well we do our jobs. We want to accomplish a task and then conquer the next one.

Why do you ask me about what is good?

In the ocean of Grace (an ocean that engulfs everything) there is no room for tiny islands of earnings. God's Grace is in every blade of grass we see touched by the sun! Until we understand our effort has nothing to do with our acceptance by God the Merciful, we will never be able to follow Jesus. 

Give up. Spend a moment giving up. Surrender because you'll never do enough on your own. Pray to understand how much you are loved unconditionally. Kill the polarities in your view of God and accept the unconditional love of a Father. 

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.