The Good, the Wealthy, and Rejection
Billy Campbell and I arrived in western Kenya and our Conference on Marriage and Family was in full swing. Sunday morning before our first meeting Billy asked one of our pastor friends, “I read last night that the unemployment rate, especially among the 20 somethings, is at a crisis point, a ticking time bomb. What’s causing this lack of open doors for young people?” “We have a saying in Kenya,” the Kenyan pastor gave us his big smile.
“It’s not those who vote but those who count the votes that determine who rules and gets the power. And when our officials do arrive in Nairobi, the capital, they often forget they are there to serve. The large majority of our elected officials claim to follow Jesus, yet corruption continues. The few become richer, while the majority, especially the young, are left with no future.”
Listening to my friend expressing the hopelessness and anger that flow when bribes and money under the table become the way things are done challenged me to face the fact that this is not only a Kenyan problem, and the questions we raised in our last Devo about the wealthy young man who came to Jesus with the right question but departed with the wrong response can give us some solutions not only for Kenya, but around the world.
“Now as Jesus started to proceed on his journey, a man ran up to him and bowed before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life.’ Jesus replied, ‘Why are you calling me good? No one is good except God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, don’t defraud, honor your father and your mother.’ ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘All of these I have observed since I was a boy.’ Jesus looked at him and loved him.
‘One thing you are lacking!’ Jesus said, ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me.’ Now he was dismayed over this word because he had many possessions.” Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those having wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’” Mark 10:17-23
First, Jesus’ challenge to the young man about the reality that only God is good is not in any way saying that Jesus didn’t consider himself good, and that he didn’t consider himself to be God in the flesh. For the last several weeks we’ve been reading an account where Jesus gave sight to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to those who couldn’t walk. He raised the dead, walked on water, and twice multiplied a small amount of food to feed thousands.
To come up with the idea, as some New Testament critics do, that somehow the historical Jesus didn’t claim to be God is a failure to track a clear point our writer is making; and in case we missed it, he showed us Jesus, transfigured into his true heavenly glory, with God himself declaring that this was his son. But Jesus points the young man away from his own goodness to challenge him to think deeply about his own naïve belief that he is good.
The young man thinks he’s kept all of God’s commandments, but when Jesus asks him to obey the 10th, not to covet, he fails miserably. He’s not willing to trust that Jesus can supply all of his needs. So he walked away. Jesus doesn’t force the young man. He let him hold on to his idolatrous wealth, and he teaches us that it’s hard for a person with wealth and power to let go of it all and simply, like a child, depend upon Jesus. And those who hold tight to their own personal wealth will certainly not be able to resist the perks and revenue a little corruption can generate from their position of power in the society.
In the end Jesus will decide who is genuinely part of his family, but I want to beware of the covetousness and deceitfulness of riches that caused this young man to walk away from Jesus.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!