Monday, November 7, 2011

The Orange County Pastor Tries to Explain Jesus' Command to the Rich Young Ruler

"Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give them to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.' But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property."

--Matthew 19:21-22

You have to take it in context, of course.

Money was this guy's God, so there's that.

Presumably, because you are here, in church, money is not your God. God is your God, right?

It's totally okay for you to drive that Lexus. You worked hard for it. Just don't forget to tithe, okay?

And that expensive suburban house, well, the rich young ruler's home was probably way nicer, so don't feel too bad. You believe in Jesus, right? You should be fine.

It's not what you do; it's what you believe. That's the main point.

And that job you work, the one where your goal is to make a lot of money, well, this is America, right?

It's not how much money you have; it's what you do with it. I'm sure, as Christians, you are doing the best you can.

On your way out, be sure to sign up for our Winter Retreat. This year, we're going to Big Bear! Bring your snowboards!



  1. Don't blame God for people, man. Good insight and stuff though - throws our own hypocrosy in our face, yes? Still, people are people. The bible is trying to teach the same lesson you are; and I think you're hip to it, too

  2. Great points, but I hope that's not your impression of all churches and/or all Christians. It's great to point out double standards and inconsistencies, but there should be a balance. What about the churches and Christians who are out there doing good, serving the community, helping the poor, etc?

  3. Interesting. I made a connection with that same passage to what one of our pastors shared at church on Sunday. But he was saying how we have a tendency to make a religion out of not being religious. You know, we get fed up with the inconsistencies and hypocrisy in the church, so we're no longer legalistic pharisees or religious hypocrits, but then we become obsessed with judging them and pointing it out. Which is a thankless, full time job because it's everywhere.

    Lately, I've received grace to trust that God can convict those who He desires to change, but that no one should change out of externally produced guilt b/c it's not real and it doesn't last. It's harder for me than judging or getting pissed at the church, but definitely more freeing to lessen the weight of the chip on my shoulder.

    And the times where I've felt led to approach someone in grace about something, it's been received so much better than some of my past passionate - but alienating - monologues.

    And I'm with Libby. If you're looking for some Christians that are significantly less hypocritical and self-serving, then you may want to extend your search to outside of Orange County. =) I know they're there, but probably not in droves.

  4. And then they rationalize the rationalization... fantastic. I love the image in the footer.

  5. In my recent research of local history, the one shining light of a Christian who seemed to try to actually live like Jesus was Ralph Kennedy, who helped start the Orange County Fair Housing Council, back when, if you were a minority, you could not get housing. I wrote about him a few weeks ago. When I see good, I try to write about it. When I see bad, I write about that. I'm a writer. I observe and write it like I see it, and I will continue to write and write and write every day.

  6. That image is AMAZING. Can you tell us where it came from?

    And I struggle with this passage a lot. You definitely have a valid point.

  7. This bums me out because of the valid truth behind it. In the book of Mark It talks about how it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven then for a camel to pass through the eye of needle. Clearly there's been a disconnect in the American church. That being said when you see a problem about sonething that you're passionate about you can't just complain when you can do something about it, such as living the example you'd like to see in others
    Thank you for the reminder to continue pursuing a life after christ

  8. Hey Jesse,
    Sorry if I made you feel like you don't point out anything good. I know you do. It just bums me out that this is what a majority of people believe most Christians to be like. I absolutely agree that a lot of Christians have been misguided as to what their purpose is, and may not be doing a good enough job, using what God has blessed them with to help others. But, as people have commented, don't let that shape your idea of who God is. It's a human flaw, not His. And the good news is that every person will be held accountable for what they did or didn't do with their time, energy, and money. That's what gives me hope in such a selfish world. If we believe God is who he says he is (trusting that he notices everything, knows our hearts, minds, motives, etc), we need to do our part and do what we can with what we have to love people like he would. He'll take care of the rest.

    Thank you for encouraging people to be better and do more. I'm sure we all (Christian or not) could find ways to love on people more. I found this verse this morning that I think nails it on the head. Hope it's encouraging:

    Proverbs 24-25
    One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

  9. *Sorry Proverbs 11:24-25