April 10, 2011: Questioning the Answers V

Posted on : Apr 7th, 2011 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

During this season of Lent we have been on a journey of spiritual discovery.  Instead of accepting traditional answers to the difficult questions of faith, we’re questioning the answers.  Our journey is best described in the words of Frederick Buechner:

“After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question ‘what it meant to be Jesus.’  During Lent, we Christians are supposed to ask one way or another, what it means to be ourselves.”

We began this journey with the question:  “What does it mean to be loved by God – that is – to be God’s beloved?”

Then we asked “Are the fundamentals of faith a stopping point or starting point?”

The third week we asked:   “Is it OK to question God?”  (Gideon sure did!)

Last week we asked: “Do our faith-questions have answers? If so, what might those “answers” be and will we be able to find them?

This Sunday we conclude our journey with the question:  “Would you ask questions if they might lead you to a different outcome than you expect or want?”

When we personally ask that question of ourselves, it is a very difficult question to answer.  Here’s how it played out for a young religious ruler who asked Jesus what he thought was a rather simple question:

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answered,

“Why do you call me good?  Only God is good!

You know the commandments:  No adultery.  No killing.  No stealing.  No false testimony.  Honor your mother and father.”

The wealthy person replied, “I’ve observed all of these from my youth.”

When Jesus heard this he said, “There is one thing left for you to do.  Sell everything you own and give money to those poorer than you – and you’ll have treasure in heaven.  Then come and follow me.”

This news was received with a heavy heart, because the ruler was extremely wealthy.

Ouch!  That was not the answer the young religious ruler expected or wanted to hear!

This parable, by the way, is often misquoted (and even mistranslated in some Bibles.)  The mistranslation is this:  “Sell everything you own and give ALL THE money to those poorer than you.” Jesus doesn’t tell him to give away “all his money;” just to give money to those who are poorer than you.  You may say that is splitting hairs, but it isn’t.  You see this rich young ruler is asked by Jesus to do something that is very difficult for him.  He’s asked to give up that which has been his source of security (some of his wealth), reach out and care for those who are poorer than he is, then come and follow Jesus.  We’re told this news was received with a heavy heart.  What Jesus asked of this young ruler was to let go of that which he had trusted in, so he could trust in God instead.

Do you think the young ruler was sorry he asked that question?

How about you?

How do you feel when “the answer you get from God” isn’t what you want to hear?  Or isn’t what you expected?  “Would you ask questions if they might lead you to a different outcome than you expect or want?”

We conclude our Lenten journey this Sunday pondering that question.

Blessings,

Dan

This Sunday’s Scripture:

Luke 18: 18-23

A young ruler asks Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

A young ruler asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good?  Only God is good!  You know the commandments:  ‘No adultery.  No killing.  No stealing.  No false testimony.  Honor your mother and father.’”

The wealthy person replied, “I’ve observed all of these from my youth.”

When Jesus heard this he said, “There is one thing left for you to do.  Sell everything you own and give money to those poorer than you – and you’ll have treasure in heaven.  Then come and follow me.”

This news was received with a heavy heart, because the ruler was extremely wealthy.

Jesus looked at the ruler and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the realm of God.”

Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.”

Then Peter said, “What about us?  We have given up everything we own to follow you!”

Jesus said, “The truth is, whoever gives up home or spouse or sisters or brothers or parents or children for the realm of God will receive many times as much in this age, and eternal life in the age to come.”