Lately I’ve been thinking about the rich young man’s encounter with Jesus (found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke). He asked Jesus what good thing he had to do to, essentially, earn his salvation. When Jesus replied, “Obey the commandments,” he said he had done so since he was a boy. Then Jesus said, in an interesting choice of words: “You still lack one thing. Sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, and follow me.” We’re told the man went away sad, because his wealth was great.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you know that eternal life is a gift from God. Discipleship, however, has a price, and we never know exactly what the price will be because most of us pay in increments as we proceed along on our walk with God. Sometimes we get our priorities mixed up and place a greater value on the things of this world (money, power, material possessions, etc.) than on our relationship with Jesus, and those things can become a stumbling block in the path of our faith journey. In this particular case, wealth was the man’s impediment, and Jesus’ prescription was to rid himself of it. Unfortunately for him, the rich young man chose the treasure he already had over the treasure Jesus offered him, unable to see what he was giving up to keep his fortune. Salvation is free; discipleship is costly, and the price of discipleship was too high for this man.
In his book The Good and Beautiful Life, James Bryan Smith asks us to consider the cost of non-discipleship. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” In the words of his mentor and friend, Dallas Willard, Smith says non-discipleship costs “exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring” (p. 31). When we choose the temporary thing, we give up the eternal one.
In Texas Hold ‘Em, if you bet all the money you personally have on the table, you’re going “all in.” You trade in a known quantity for a potential jackpot (I don’t play poker, so if that’s not quite right please don’t blast me!). You could win, yes, but you could also lose—that’s why it’s called gambling. When we go all in with Jesus, we give up the things that we think we need and love in exchange for love itself. This exchange is not a game of chance because we always come out ahead in the end. It does, however, require trust. On my faith journey I am working toward going all in with Jesus. I’m not there yet. Although I know a few people who are, I’m sure many more are, like me, working on it. What about you? Are you all in?