Lenten Devotional for Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mark 10:17-31
17As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”  20He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”  21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
23Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?”
27Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
28Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed
you.”  29Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.  31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

I think that we are almost ready to file our taxes (whew!). Most churches insist on talking about stewardship in the fall. Yet never are we more acutely aware of what we have than around April 15 (which will be the Second Sunday of Easter this year). And here’s Jesus on the way to Jerusalem telling an earnest man (whom Jesus loves on the spot) to do something drastic — telling him to max out on Schedule A deductions and follow him. Even the disciples were perplexed because wealth gained honestly was a sign of God’s blessing.

That day, in that man, Jesus recognized an obstacle in this man’s search for eternal life. That day, in all of his followers, Jesus recognized that what we hold onto can sometimes take hold of us. He invites us to move from a moment with our stuff to having a kingdom moment when we seek together new priorities, new relationships, and new blessings that include the well-being of others. Especially as some of us plan for the next steps in school, in family, in work and even in retirement, Jesus calls us out as disciples. We do not know the future and we can never accumulate all we need—it’s about trusting in God’s future and God’s abundance.

In the midst of naming the kingdom blessings, Jesus adds “persecutions” to the list. Being a disciple can bring hard times. So can harboring anxiety and fear about our possessions. So what’s the best use of the time and possessions God has given us? I’ll get back to you as soon as I get off the phone with my broker.

Lord, I seek many things that look good. Help me to seek that which is needful to be your disciple. And help us all to seek together to be a faithful community that uses all that you give us for the kingdom. 
Stephen Kolderup

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