“One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Luke 18:22 NASB)
This morning I was reading Exodus and God was giving His people their commands. He told them what to expect as they traveled to the Promised Land and once they arrived, what to do. I read the laws about what they were to eat and how they were to sacrifice. He seemed to repeat the same thing over and over probably to get His point across. I have to admit, I was less than enthusiastic and frankly overwhelmed at all of the things they had to remember. So, I put the Word down kind of disappointed with what I read. It was boring and uninspiring. But then I sat to write my morning pages and all of that changed.
I started thinking about my daughter’s first year playing 3v3 soccer. She had always played traditional soccer. You get the ball, dribble and pass and someone shoots at the goal. You are allowed anywhere on the field. It’s straightforward. But when she decided to play 3v3, the rules changed. The game has changed and so have the rules. There was a smaller field. You weren’t allowed in the box in front of the goal. There was no goalie. There were a bunch of new rules they were taught. The thing was, to explain all of these rules would be overwhelming to these young girls. So, their coach gave them a few and as they played pointed out the others until they were all comfortable with the new rules.
I was brought back to the rich young ruler who wanted to follow Jesus. He had kept all of the commands obviously taught to him by his parents. He had done everything he was supposed to do. Then Jesus challenged him to sell all that he had. Jesus went right for the heart. He knew that it would not be enough to keep the commands anymore; the ruler had to give his heart as well. The rules had changed. It was no longer good enough to just live the outward life; the inward life had to change too. If this ruler honestly wanted to follow Jesus his priorities would have to change. He would have to give up his possessions which at this point held his heart. He had to give up the very thing he loved the most in order to follow Jesus.
I don’t think Jesus cared about the ruler’s possessions. He cared about his heart. When we follow the Lord we are asked to let Him reign in our hearts. Doing that is not an easy task. We have our hopes. We have our dreams. We have our plans. But Jesus takes those hopes, dreams and plans and makes them His own. Our hearts desires become His desires. When we truly follow Christ with all of our hearts, it costs something. It is usually not monetary either. He wants us to give our love. He asks us to follow Him into the hearts of others using love. This is not an easy task because giving love will hurt at times. It will be humiliating at times. And there will be times when this love is met with rejection. But still, He calls us to give our hearts and love those He puts into our lives.
Yes, the rules change when we decide to follow Jesus. It’s no longer easy. It’s no longer dependent on our own strength. But oh the pleasure and satisfaction there is when we walk in His love. There is no greater experience than to obey and reap the rewards. We will never know the impact our obedience has had on others, this side of heaven. But I believe that even with all of the humiliation, hurt and disappointment, Jesus works. The rules may have changed but the goal is still the same. He longs for undivided hearts.