Why the Church Hates the Story of The Rich, Young Ruler

On the way home from a family get together, we were listening to a Christian radio program discussing the story of the rich young ruler.

What do I do to get eternal life?

Keep the commandments.

Did that.

OK, give away all your possessions to the poor.

The rich, young ruler went away full of sorrow.

Modern Christianity hates this story.

If someone were to ask us what to do to get eternal life, we’d launch into some doctrinal dissertation about how “you just believe man, you don’t do anything.” Or perhaps the militant Calvinist line of, “Well, nothing, if you’re elect you’re in; if not, too bad.”

Either way, we are fairly disgusted with Jesus’ response here. It’s not right. We would never tell someone to keep commandments to be saved, and certainly wouldn’t tell rich people to give away their stuff.

Some have even said “Jesus didn’t know grace.” A mind-blowing statement if there ever was one.

After discussing this passage for a half hour, the host said something like, “Jesus’ point is that all things are possible with God, but not with man. Jesus wanted this man to be like a little child and just believe. We don’t do anything. Jesus already did everything, all we do is believe.”

Again, I find this funny, since that is the exact opposite point Jesus made to the guy.

Yes, all things are possible with God. Yes, the verses before this story talk about the faith of a child. I’m cool with that.

But the way to have the faith of a child is to not rest on you. Which means you DO something to eliminate trust in yourself.

The rich, young ruler was told to get rid of his riches. If he did this, he would be left with the dependent faith of a child. Children trust their father will provide lunch, clothes, shelter, etc.

Rich, young rulers trust their bank accounts for that stuff.

We are saved by faith and faith always DOES something. Read Hebrews 11, the great chapter of faith, and note how each person with faith DID something.

The idea that faith means I do nothing, that doing something means I’m a legalistic Pharisee trusting in my self-righteousness, is a gross exaggeration of the Bible’s points about faith, grace, and works.

It’s time for the Church to take the Bible’s words seriously and quit destroying it to bolster a theological pet.


One thought on “Why the Church Hates the Story of The Rich, Young Ruler”

  1. Very true. The images of our time, “made with human hands,” are the popular false doctrines. Idol worship is not dead, it is just transformed. Where are the iconoclasts of today?

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