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.

“Strong” People Are Only Hurting Themselves

This is a pet peeve post. If I am talking about you, I mean no offense, just trying to help.

Every once in a while, I see this thing on Facebook that says something like, “The problem with being a strong person is that no one ever asks how you are doing.”

I find this an odd statement for several reasons.

1) A person who has to tell others they are strong is not a strong person. A strong person really doesn’t care about what others think of them, so they have no need to tell people they are strong. As proverbs says,Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth.”

2) Strong people, by definition, don’t need others to ask how they are doing. Being “strong” means you are able to handle everything. Strong people don’t need people to care about them.

3) This statement is implying that the strong person isn’t strong, which is why they want a sympathetic question asked of them. If you have a need for someone to give you permission to whine, you are not a strong person.

4) Being strong is not the point. Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” This Facebook statement is a humanistic, girl-power kind of statement that has nothing to do with biblical notions of strength.

We are to be strengthened in the Lord and in the power of His might. If you are doing this, you won’t have to try to act strong in front of people to keep your facade of strength, nor will you need to mope about how no one asks you questions.

When you are weak, embrace that. Stop taking yourself so seriously. His grace is sufficient.

When you say statements like this, you are proving what everyone already knows about you: you’re not really strong, you just think you are.

You’re not strong. Being strong in yourself is no virtue. Be strong in the Lord.

Perhaps if you embraced this point, you’d have more people caring about you.

How Should the Church Respond to Blasphemy from the World?

What should Christians do when the world blasphemes Jesus?

Islam is quite sensitive when their guy is “blasphemed.” Islam is a man-made religion with a man-made God. If you want to know how men think, take a look at Islam.

When Muhammad is picked on, Muslims want to kill people.

Therefore, when Jesus is picked on, Christians should largely ignore it and be loving and forgiving.

The latest blasphemy against Jesus Christ is from the Cartoon Network and their new show, Black Jesus.

“The show takes place in Compton, California and is based on the premise of “Black Jesus” bringing happiness and positivity to the hood. Throughout the show, Black Jesus will come across gang-bangers, non-believers, and alcoholics (among other things) which will make his job of making the hood a happier place extremely difficult.”

There is no way this show will not be blasphemous.

So, should the Church be outraged, boycott, and throw a hissy-fit?

When the Church does this, mostly we just do the world’s marketing for them.

Instead, the Church should ignore this one, and the next one, and the next, as the hits will keep coming.

We live in a world that is run by the Devil and his minions. Satan is the god of this age, the prince of the power of the air. He has control over the entertainment industry, I don’t think there’s much surprise in that observation.

Let him have his fun. Who cares. Jesus wins.

The larger concern should be: does your life accurately portray Christ?

That’s enough to keep a guy concerned right there.

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

What to do to Get Grace from God

There is a reason why some people get God’s grace and others don’t.

Some say the reason is that God irresistibly shoves grace down some people’s throats, while not giving grace at all to others. No one knows why God does this, He just does. Deal with it.

Irresistible Grace is heresy, in my mind. It has no biblical support and makes God unjust, unfair, and a liar.

“But doesn’t the Bible say God gives mercy to whom He will give mercy?”

Yes it does. It also tells us why he decides to show mercy to some and not others.

God is just and He is paying attention. What you do matters.

Others, even if they aren’t TULIP brand Calvinists, will say “you can’t do anything to get grace, otherwise that’s earning or deserving it and it’s no more grace then.”

This is also grossly misstated.

Grace is not deserved, this is true. You don’t do work and then God pays you with grace.

That being said, there are still things you do to get grace. It doesn’t show wages for service rendered; it shows the meeting of conditions.

One I have mentioned many times is “God gives grace to the humble.” The arrogant won’t get God’s grace. Period.

The last verse of Ephesians gives us another condition, a condition which is much like humility.

Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

Grace won’t be with you if you don’t sincerely love Jesus Christ.

“Sincerity” means incorruptible, undying. It’s an ongoing and pure love for the Lord. Those who have that will receive grace from God.

I imagine this means something, whether your theology will allow it to mean something is another issue.

Revisionist History, Pride and Judgment Day

“History is written by the winners” is a trite statement, and not true. I know it’s making a point, but alas, it’s not true.

The South lost the American Civil War. They lost big time.

Not only were a generation of men cut down, their entire economic existence was eliminated with the abolishing of slavery.

The South was stuck with 1) a huge loss to explain and 2) an odd position of defending the fact that they fought to enslave other humans.

The South, during the War, was fine calling themselves “Rebels” or “Rebs.” But after the war, they felt a need to rewrite history.

“Was your father a Rebel and a Traitor? Did he fight in the service of the Confederacy for the purpose of defeating the Union, or was he a Patriot, fighting for the liberties granted him under the Constitution in defense of his native land, and for a cause he knew to be right?”

That reads much better than: we fought for the right to enslave others.

“Keeping to this revisionist tendency, rather than propagate undignified titles like “the late war” (too vague), the “Civil War” (too revolutionary), and “the War of Rebellion” (far too revolutionary), in the late 1880’s [Confederate Veterans societies] approved resolutions encouraging the conflict’s official designation as “the War Between the States.” Successive generations of Southern schoolchildren would learn it as such.” (Quotes from here, page 264)

I have even heard it referenced as such. It wasn’t called that til 20 years after the fact.

Losers rewrite history too. In fact, Losers might have more of a reason to influence our memories–they have reputations to re-inflate.

Winners tend to gloat and exaggerate their awesome; losers tend to downplay their losses. Both are primarily interested in looking better.

What are you embarrassed about in your life? Do you feel a need to rewrite your history, to exaggerate your wins or downplay your losses? Do you feel a need to rip others apart to make yourself look better?

All of these things are symptoms of pride. Pride must be killed in you. Changing facts to suit your arrogant needs may work in history, but it does not work before God.

Be real with reality. Deal with it. Take care of it. One day it will be too late and God isn’t interested in your revisionist history.

The Game of Learning

Stupid people abound.

Apparently, being stupid pays off since so many people decide to stay there.

I never understood stupid.

Then again, there are some who think I am stupid, perhaps stupid is relative.

No, I didn’t say my relatives are stupid.

Proverbs 10:23 is translated differently by every translation. But I think the NASV is a  good translation of it, or at least a translation that is the most fun.

Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.

Young’s Literal Translation is similar:

“To execute inventions [is] as play to a fool,
And wisdom to a man of understanding.”

“Sport” and “play” are both translations of the Hebrew word sechoq, which is usually translated as “laughter.”

I like that.

Being wicked is fun, a game for wicked people. Getting wisdom is a game, a source of fun, for smart people.

Do you find learning a source of entertainment? Something you would associate with laughter, play, and fun?

If not, I imagine you view learning as drudgery and work, which is why many remain stupid. Stupid either does wickedness, or gets taken in by wickedness.

Proverbs is all about the value of wisdom and understanding. Getting those things is not automatic. It begins with the fear of God.

Learning God’s wisdom can be a source of enjoyment. It’s why David said he delights in the law of God. Why John says God’s commandments are not grievous.

Once you have a right relationship with God, you know your place and His place, what He says becomes a source of joy, laughter, and play.

There is no place for boring, dry, humdrum Christianity. If that’s what it is to you, get right with God.

Yes, there is work and study, and all of that is not fun, but there is a joy in learning. Find that joy.

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom,
and the man that getteth understanding.