Matthew 19:16-22 – Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "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." "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, honour your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbour as yourself.'" "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" 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." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (NIV)
On first reading, we might assume that what stood in the way of this young man's spiritual growth was his wealth, but the truth of this story extends far beyond money to issues that affect all of us, rich or poor. Firstly, we must be willing to grow in our relationship to God according to His terms rather than our own. Secondly, to get us there, God may take us out of our comfort zone, and more than likely, we won't like it.
Now I am not saying that God works that way all the time, but we really need to understand that God could put us in the rich young ruler's shoes when we ask God for growth in our faith and a deeper spiritual life.
Let me give you an example from my own life. A few years ago, I felt that there needed to be a ministers' lectionary group, for both fellowship and exchange of ideas and information, in order to help us prepare for the Scripture texts for the coming Sunday in worship. The best day for all of us was Tuesday. It wasn't my best day, since that was the day that I started the week after taking Monday off, and right after the meeting of the lectionary group, there was an adult Bible Study for my parishioners. It also would give me very little time to touch base with the church secretary. It wasn't easy. I am a bit of a schedule freak, so I didn't like to be frazzled by a bit of running around. I was out of my comfort zone. But I persevered, realizing that this was something that God wanted for us who could gather and who would greatly benefit from our different insights into the Scripture. The group turned out to be a real gift from God. If I had not been willing to let God do it His way, and give up control of my schedule, I really would have missed out on a real place of blessing and growth in my life.
I think we all could "fill in the blank" with many other things in our lives that we don't want to do God's way or for which we don't want to be taken out of our comfort zones. We would be in the place of the rich young ruler.
God loves us and will never stop loving us. Through the riches of His mercy and grace, He wants to bless us, not curse us. But if, deep in our hearts, we want to grow closer and deeper in our commitment and walk with God, to get to that place, we'd better be prepared for God to require something of us that will really, as the saying goes, "rock our world".
Prayer: Lord, we know that You love us and always want the best for us. Always remind of us of that when You push us out of our comfort zones. Amen.