Jesus was never afraid to ask the hard question.
In fact, sometimes that seems like the sum of his entire work… a ministry of hard questions.
On Tuesday night, our Tri2 Small Group Leaders got together for a bit of training as we head in to this trimester. We spent our time talking about the well-resourced young man in Mark 10. It is such an encouragement as we think about the critical moments that God gives us with all kinds of different people.
It begins with this man, who seems to have everything (financial wealth, moral obedience, good standing in society) running after Jesus to ask him a question. And what a question! “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” It gets at our core longing to know peace and security, to be right with our Maker. It picks up on our ubiquitous insecurity– have I done enough. Everyone asks it in one way or another… and it is especially poignant coming off the lips of one who seems to have all the answers.
Everyone has an entry point to hear about Jesus- no matter how much they appear to not need him.
In response to the most important question this man could ask, Jesus says the most difficult thing he could hear— sell everything you got and come follow me.
The guy balks. Then walks away in the opposite direction from Jesus. The answer was too much. He had too much of his worth, identity, and security invested in his stuff… and Jesus was not compelling enough to make him leave it.
In between the most important question that one can ask and the most difficult thing that one can hear, Mark notes that Jesus looked at the man and loved the man. These details of seeing and loving are almost ‘asides’ but they hold the key to the entire interaction– Jesus says this most difficult thing because he loves him and he sees what he most needs. Critical moments become life-changing moments when the difficult answers to the hard questions come from a posture of being seen and loved.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to regularly speak REALLY difficult things. And, like Jesus, we may very well experience the rejection of others in response. It happened to Him. It will happen to us. Regularly.
Love is how we share in the cost of what is difficult to say.
Our obligation is to say things from a posture of knowing/seeing the person and loving the person. Love is what allows us to share in the cost of what is difficult to say. And love is what turns critical moments in to life-changing moments.
We have 2 critical moments on the horizon for our church:
- Tonight at 7pm, Dan Allender will begin his To be told conference at Restoration. Over 350 people will get to consider the critical moments in their story when Jesus intervened to change their life. It’s happened for all of us– the invitation is to live God’s story as one who has been restored by grace.
- On Sunday we start a new sermon series: Justice and the Generosity of God. This is one of those watershed series where almost every part of our private and corporate life comes under the scrutiny of the Gospel of Grace. As we will see, we can’t escape that ‘doing justice’ is a central (maybe the central?) part of being the people of God. ‘Doing justice’ is how God expected Israel and then the church to be known. And the way God described ‘just’ will challenge us every week. I hope you won’t miss a Sunday between now and the end of June. And I hope you are in a small group during the week to wrestle through the consequences of these passages.
None of us wants to miss the critical moments that Jesus brings in our life. All of us want to know we are loved. Some of us will put it together and run after the author of life who loves us more than we ever hoped.
Grateful to be running with you,