Reading: Matthew 19
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" 17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments." 18 "Which ones?" he inquired. Jesus replied, "'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,'[c] and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" 20 "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" 21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" 26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 27 Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" (Matthew 19:16-27 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
We now know from Matthew's gospel that life in the kingdom is different-in its attitudes, priorities, and choices; in its commitments, expectations, and purpose; in its actions and values. Life and goodness are not measured by commandment keeping, but by heart values. If this change in attitudes and values seems humanly impossible, the good news of the gospel of the kingdom is that God makes possible what is impossible with human beings. We must understand, however, that escaping the world's way of thinking and valuing things is not easy. After the encounter with the rich young man and Jesus' teaching, Peter's question seems to revert to the same self-centered approach to life: What will we get? What will there be for us? These questions echo through the ages and continue to plague Christianity. People still attend church and seek Christian connections because of what they can get. People still buy into and respond to the health and wealth promises of religious charlatans. Living out the values of the kingdom-self-denial, cross-bearing, and sacrifice are never easy.
How can the church help Christians avoid the "what's in it for me?" attitude? How does the church inadvertently or unknowingly buy into the attitude reflected in Peter's question? What are more appropriate Christian values? If you had to make a list of kingdom values, what things would you include? (Try to reflect some of the concepts we have discussed from Matthew's gospel in your answer.) What are some of the values advanced by the world that are inconsistent with the Christian value system?
Dear God, we seek again today an understanding of your priorities and values, so that we might make appropriate commitments and choices. Teach us unselfishness as we seek to follow Jesus, in his name, Amen.