Monday, February 16, 2015

Our Carefully-Constructed Walls

During the 2015 All-Church Family Retreat at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference, Ned Erickson spoke at several sessions over the Valentine’s Day weekend to our Media Presbyterian Church family.  Ned is a former MPC member, the son of our own Renee and Rich Erickson, and has authored several books, including Clay and Falling Into Love:  How anAverage Guy Got the Girl of His Dreams.  He is a Young Life leader in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

When I got home from our retreat, I spent some time looking over my notes from Ned’s sessions, reviewing the Bible passages he referenced, and writing out my understanding of his messages.  When he shared insights about The Rich Young Man in Mark 10:17-22, he helped me to see a familiar Bible passage in a new light, with a broader application.  Here are some of Ned’s thoughts, with some of my own embellishments:

Instead of The Rich Young Man, Ned calls him “The Man with the Carefully-Constructed Life.”  This man has diligently kept God’s commandments, he knows to fall on his knees in humility before a great teacher, and he desires to know what he must do to inherit eternal life.  By all appearances, this is a good, honest, earnestly religious man. 

But 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that God doesn’t look at the same things man looks at.  “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” And when Jesus looks at this young man’s heart, He sees his love of money.  He sees his desire to do all the right things to earn his way into eternal life.  He sees this man’s need to “be good” in the eyes of others.  And the scripture tells us Jesus’ reaction to what He sees there in that young man’s heart:  “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21).

Jesus loves him!

He knows that the one thing this man wants more than anything else is the same as it is for any and all of us—love—but instead of seeking it in the right place—in God, who Himself is Love—the man has given his heart over to the love of money.  And Jesus loves him anyway!  

In the same way, Jesus loves us anyway, no matter what that “anyway” might entail.  He loves the real me.  He loves the real you.  The one thing we want more than anything—love—is the one thing God most wants us to know about Him.

In verse 21, Jesus invites the man to follow him—to tear down the walls of his carefully-constructed life, to walk alongside Him, to allow Him to become part of his life.  But to tear down those walls, to let love in, to make way for intimacy and vulnerability, will require this man to let go of his focus on doing the right things, on holding his money close, and on earning his salvation.

And so the young man walks away from Jesus. 

It’s too scary for him to be vulnerable, too scary to cast aside the worldly wealth and abundance he has amassed for himself in favor of the wealth and abundance that Jesus freely offers. 

What are our carefully-constructed walls that keep us from allowing Jesus in, that keep us from walking in intimacy with Him, that keep us from the abundance He has promised us?  God sees through to our hearts and loves us—the real us.  There’s no need to maintain our carefully constructed walls around the One who created us and can see through to our hearts, and still loves us.

Come back for Part 2:  “Our Happily-Ever-After.”


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