Arguing With Ourselves

I woke up this morning with the oddest impression, you know that Scripture about the rich young ruler, yeah that’s the one, the one that makes us squirm when Jesus says, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

 

As I was waking up I had the distinct impression that Jesus wasn’t only referring to the rich man’s houses, camels, and servants, but also to his scrolls, the ideas the young man had studied and held close intellectually. Of course we know that the young man sadly withdrew from Jesus’ presence because he was unwilling to give them up.

 

The rich young ruler was unwilling to let go of the material goods to be sure, but there is a deeper item he didn’t want to release, he didn’t want to let go of the ideas that made him feel comfortable as a well-to-do man of influence. I would imagine that he was expecting Jesus to parrot the teachings of the Pharisees who saw riches as “the blessing of God” or even as God’s mark of approval. He did not expect to have those “blessings” turned into a millstone hung around his neck. He probably sought comfort with his fellow rich men later on, and they talked about the necessity of being rich and how “natural” it was that men like themselves should own so much.

 

You see this is not just a matter of material possessions it is a matter of mind set. The Pharisees were world class champions in that category, they would argue til they were blue in the face about whether one should stoke the fire on the Sabbath (their answer was no) or just how far from home one was allowed to journey on the Sabbath, and they had opinions on an infinite number of other theological minutae and if you didn’t agree with their conclusions you must be one of the other party, those heretics.

The spirit of the Pharisees is alive and well today.

 

I see examples of this on the web all of the time, I see comments like “Well I looked at her blog but it was obvious that she is an Arminian so I stopped reading it” or “you know I was enjoying that guy’s book until he said that Rob Bell’s writings were just a fad, so I closed the book in disgust.”

 

How many of us carry “possessions” in the form of pre-judgments or preconceived notions we are unwilling to loosen our grip on?

How many of us cling to intellectual ideas over and above clinging to the Lord?

 

With the advent of the internet and social media there is yet one more conduit for theological fads to spread across our culture. Now you are a heretic if you do not fall in line with the theological flavor of the month, and there are plenty of people willing to blast you, and burn you to a crisp, for saying otherwise. So what does all of this storm and fury mean?

 

It doesn’t mean anything.

Theological ideas are just the boxes we build to put our latest idols in, and we fight bitterly to keep our idols safe from damage or question.

 

There is so much more to having fellowship with Jesus than fighting over a bunch of silly human ideologies. Put yourself in the place of the rich young ruler with the riches of your ideas arrayed round about you, but with this difference, you then realize the futility of fighting against where God is taking you, and you let go of those clinging encumbrances and turn back and fall in with Him, you follow Him. You learn to listen to Him and let the overwhelming cacophony of the world slip away.

 

It is far better to know Jesus in Spirit and in Truth, than to possess all of the “correct” ideas that mankind can conceive.

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2 Comments on “Arguing With Ourselves”

  1. Rachel Says:

    Hi Nathan, this post brought to mind the verse

    1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

    Gaining the truth is so important … God tells us to seek wisdom and understanding for they are the principle things .. but that wisdom comes from Him – not all the idol babbling. We are to seek the truth from Him .. live in that truth and love others. Far too often people get caught up over ideologies – instead of going to God to seek Truth and loving one another.

    Thanks for this important reminder.

    Rachel

  2. Nathan Says:

    Hi Rachel,

    Amen!!

    Nathan


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