Entering the Kingdom
Open Your Bible
Luke 18:1-43, Genesis 18:13-15, Jeremiah 32:17
BY Guest Writer
In my high school youth group, we used to play a game I loved. The game was Bigger or Better, and the object was simple: keep trading up for the biggest or best prize. To start, we were divided into teams and each team was given a single paper clip. We were then unleashed on a neighborhood with a simple assignment: “Come back with something bigger and better than this.” We’d go house to house, making trades. At first, we’d trade in the paperclip for something smallish, like a cup or dish. We’d trade that in for something bigger… say, a basketball or framed piece of art. And on and on we’d go, until we were called back together to display our spoils.
Trading up is always a thrill. This is the message the rich ruler seemed to miss during his encounter with Jesus. He had his eyes on the prize of eternal life, but he misunderstood the path to getting there. Though he recognized Jesus as a “good teacher,” he missed God’s heart. This ruler was a good child who turned into a good man, and he wanted assurance that he was good enough.
Jesus rattled off a few of the ten commandments: “Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother” (Luke 18:20). To which the man had the audacity to respond, “I have kept all these from my youth” (v.21). But even if this man had been perfectly obedient with these commandments, keeping the letter of the law is not the same as following the heart of the God behind that law.
Jesus offered him a trade up.
Instead of keeping all the rules, the man could sell all his belongings. You see, Jesus knew that despite his outward obedience, the rich young ruler was missing out. His money was in the way. Rather than asking the man to make a tremendous sacrifice—another religious task—Jesus was really offering the man his freedom. But it does not always appear that way to those of us who hear such offers. No wonder the crowds declared, “Then who can be saved?” (v.26).
Jesus’s response: “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (v.27).
Go on, bring to the Lord whatever you hope will save you. Bring your good works and best days. Bring your charity and church membership. Bring your idyllic childhood and productive adulthood. And trade them in. He may not ask you to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor, but He will ask you to part with anything in your life that’s keeping you from knowing the love of God.
Accept Christ’s invitation to lay down your goodness for something better. It’s a trade up.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.