It's not about what we can do. (Mark 10:17-30)

Sometimes we forget that salvation isn’t so much about what we do, as it is about what He does.

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In Mark 10:17-22 we see a young man run up to Jesus, drop to his knees, and ask “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him to obey the commandments, and the young man says “Yes, I already do that.” Jesus does not argue with him. Instead, it says that he looked at him and loved him. This young man was a good young man. He was living a good life, following the rules the way he was supposed to. Jesus continues, “Go sell everything you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven; then come follow me.” The young man leaves “sad, for he had many possessions.”

The Apostles, seeing this exchange, despair “Then who can be saved?” Jesus replies, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

Let’s take a closer look at this story. The young man begins by asking Jesus a question that a lot of modern-day Christians are asking as well, “What must I do?” Do you see the problem? The position he is taking with the Lord is “how do I earn this inheritance? What can I do? Me, me, me.” That is not how this works.

It is a false start because it assumes that there is a rule book to follow and, if a person were to follow that rule book perfectly, they could somehow achieve their own salvation. Ultimately, that kind of thinking is about self righteousness. It is about us making ourselves righteous. It leaves little room for the Lord and is, instead, focused on what we are doing.

They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
— Mark 10:26-27

That is why Jesus’ words to the Apostles are so important. It is impossible for anyone to be saved apart from Jesus Christ. Only he makes our salvation possible. It is His work of salvation, and our cooperation with that work in our lives, that enables us to inherit eternal life.

It seems clear that, in the case of the young man of Mark 10, Jesus was not just asking the young man to give up his treasure. He was also asking him to put all his security in the Lord. He needed to give up the idea that somehow he could just “be a good person” himself to Heaven, and take a hold of the concept that it was only in and through Jesus that he would find security in this life or in the life to come.

I do not think there has ever been a period of Christian history where this story has not been challenging. God is calling us to let go of the things we place our trust in, and place our trust solely in Him. For some of us, that means we might need to give everything to the poor in order to follow him. For others, it might mean we need to give up our plans and open our hearts to His. And yet for others, it might mean letting go of an idea of faith that is based on the completion of a set of minimums, and embrace a faith that is based on a relationship with the living God. It is time to stop asking the Lord “what can I do” and start inviting him to do what only He can do.

Jesus says hard things, we need to hear them. (Marriage Edition)

Jesus says hard things, we need to hear them. (Marriage Edition)

Jesus example shows us that marriage is more than what you are getting out of the relationship and it is about more than “feeling alive.”  

It is a choice that is much stronger and more meaningful than that. Sometimes love means suffering for the sake of another. Love is more about giving than it is about receiving. Sometimes love is a fight, not with the other person (although sometimes we do need to argue), but for the other person. And often, more often than they will tell you in marriage prep, the person you need to fight is yourself. 

In the name of Jesus

In the name of Jesus

As a modern Christian, I think we have become a little desensitized to the majesty of our Lord. We are familiar with Jesus, sure. If you ask most Catholics, they would tell you they know all about him.  But really, the Jesus that most of us conceive of, well, he isn’t actually Jesus. Not the one who we read about in scripture. The popular conception of Jesus lacks the vitality and power of the real person. If we are honest, he is kind of wimpy…

He is Who He is. (Mark 8:27-35)

He is Who He is. (Mark 8:27-35)

If I am honest, most of the time I am just like Peter. I am good at declaring who God is, “Jesus is Lord!”  But, when it comes down to it, I want my plan for my salvation, not his. When God begins to speak hard truths into my life, when he calls me to pick up the cross and follow, more often than not, I pull him aside and rebuke him. “Lord, it isn’t supposed to be like this. You're letting me down. Pull it together.” 

Be Subordinate?

Be Subordinate?

Ephesians 5:21-32 is a beautiful instruction to Christian spouses. Husbands are called to be like Jesus, totally giving themselves to their wives, as Christ totally gives himself to the Church. Wives are supposed to totally give themselves to their husbands, as the Church is called to totally give itself to Christ.