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Deeper Discipleship


Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is Mark 10:17-22.  A wealthy man approaches Jesus with great respect and asks what he must do to have the abundant life Jesus has been preaching about.  Jesus reminds him of the commandments, but the man claims to have followed them since childhood.  Jesus looks him in the eye and something changes.  Mark tells us that Jesus loved him in this moment, so he invites him to sell all of his belongings, and follow him.  He invites him to become a disciple. 

All of the other disciples had to do the same thing in order to follow Jesus.  They dropped their nets, left their family, and followed Jesus.  In this case, the man could not do it.  The scriptures tell us that he had a lot of wealth, a lot he was unwilling to let go of.  He left that encounter disappointed, because the cost of discipleship was too great. 

I notice that Jesus starts with the law as the answer to the question, almost giving a basic book answer.  It is only after the man says he has lived well that Jesus really looks at the man.  He stares into his eyes and takes a measure of him.  In that moment, I suspect Jesus must have seen a true seeker looking back at him.  I am sure you know what I mean, you have met them, you may have even seen them in the mirror on occasion.  People who have a thirst for something more, you can see it in their eyes.  When we give these things up, our eyes glaze over a bit, and something inside of us dies.  This man was still alive, he was still seeking.  At this, Jesus offered something deeper, but it would cost everything.

I believe that Jesus wants to call all of us to something deeper, but for most of us, the cost is too high.  Remember that Jesus still loved/loves this man.  He never condemns him, even though the man missed out on the "abundant life".  I don't believe this is a question about salvation, this is a story about an invitation into deeper discipleship and a new way of living.  The cost is great, but it is one wild ride.  If you find yourself going through the motions, or you see that glazed look in your eyes in the mirror, it is probably because at some point you walked away like the wealthy man did.  You took a measure of the cost and you stepped down.  The invitation is still there for you, Jesus is calling you to something deeper.  It starts with knowing what your barrier is.  What is the cost for you?  What would you struggle to give up? What happens if you just gave it away, or walked away from it?  Can you take that leap?  If not, remember that this is not about salvation, and Jesus still loves you.  The call is there for you to pick up when you are ready.

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