As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.’

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth – Mark 10:17-22

The world is in desperation just as we sense desperation in the story of the young rich man in our gospel reading today (Mark 10). This young man approached Jesus, falling on his knees in desperation eager to know the answer to the eternal question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The reflection is that despite his 100% observance of the law and his recognition of Jesus as “Good Teacher,” he knew that something was missing in his life. What the young man thought and assumed to be a commonsense was without spiritual sense. He kept all the commandments since he was a boy. Despite his deep religiosity and well-attuned to his practices, he was able to ‘sense that there is more out there than what he has experienced so far.’ For this young man, eternal life was not just an article of his creed, but a life goal. Jesus probed into the young man’s heart saying, “One thing you lack,… Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.’ What a change of mind, the young man that was desperately ready for the high spiritual adventure of the spiritual life ‘tragically balks.’

The reflection is that, there are some elements of the young man in each of us, always ready for a close walk with God, a high adventure for the spiritual life, but the values and possessions as a problem. The high adventure of spiritual life is about giving our life to God. This adventure points to the fact-value dichotomy. Lesslie Newbigin rightly provides a helpful reflection applicable to the young man’s commonsense that lacks the facts about eternal life. According to Newbigin, ‘it is one of the key features of our culture … that we make a sharp distinction between a world of what we call ‘values’ and a world of what we call ‘facts.’ In the former world we are pluralists; values are a matter of personal choice. In the latter we are not; facts are facts, whether you like them or not.’ Yes, facts about eternal life are facts, whether the rich young man in you and I like it or not. The truth is that material things can encumber you and I and stop us being single-minded about our discipleship. Possessions is a big issue today, forgetting that abundance goes beyond wealth and riches. In such a time and culture in which materialism is eating away at our focus on what really matters, especially, about eternal life, discipleship, the Second Coming of Jesus, God is calling us to discover and overcome the ‘One Thing,’ that prevents us from a full expression of our Christian faith in Jesus Christ. God is saying to someone, enough of over-prioritising your worries about the upkeep of material possessions, and fussing over appearances like Martha. Using the words of the late nineteenth century Norwegian writer, Arne Garborg, “For money you can have everything it is said. No, that is not true. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge but not intelligence; glitter, but not comfort; fun, but not pleasure; acquaintances, but not friendship; servants, but not faithfulness; grey hair, but not honour; quiet days, but not peace. The shell of all things you can get for money. But not the kernel. That cannot be had for money.”

Christianity is driven by an eschatological vision of a city of God and not vision of a city of reason, possessions, and money. The young man in you and I summons us to overcome the knowledge of religion without the Redeemer. Jesus is not just a ‘Good Teacher,’ he is the Anointed One, the Saviour, and the Coming King. The reflection is that you can come to Jesus as you are, but you do not leave as you came. When you are too eager seeking the wealth and pride of this world, it may be difficult to rightly appreciate Jesus Christ and his grace (Jn 3:16). For those who have little of this world, they experience the joy and greatness of the salvation in Jesus Christ. It is my prayer for someone that the one thing you lack will be abundantly replaced by the joy of following Jesus Christ and gaining new life. Following Jesus Christ is not easy except you surrender “One thing you lack.” Today is another opportunity to name more than one thing in our lives that we need to lay down at Jesus’ feet. Mention the one thing that stands between you and complete transparency with Jesus Christ by declaring and singing the hymn by Judson Van De Venter (1896):

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

2 All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine. [Refrain]

3 All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me. [Refrain]