And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. - Mark 10:17-22 (Also Matthew 19:16-30 & Luke 18:18-30)
It is so easy to be comfortable in America. To make comfort a goal, a dream, a desire. I often look around lately and realize just how much STUFF I have. Clothes, art supplies, electronics, notebooks, novels, writing supplies, perfume, knick knacks, shoes, blankets, craft supplies. Enough STUFF that I can pile my bedroom floor 3 feet high with things I own and still have some to spare.
So I want to be comfortable. To have everything I “need” to live a satisfying and fulfilling life. Not all comfort is bad or wrong, to be sure, and God does give and provide for His children. But often, comfort is a lie of the devil and my own flesh to keep me from growing spiritually.
Comfort says “Don't get up this early! You will still have an hour to pray a few hours from now.” Comfort says “No, keep that $20 for yourself, enough other people will provide for that missionary.” Comfort says “You don't need to pray for a FULL hour... I mean, there's things to do, to work on, people to talk to.”
We in America are the rich young ruler. I may say, “but hey, I'm struggling with my bills, and haven't had spending money for months! How is that rich?” But if you compare to the rest of the world, we are still in the top 3% for wealth!
We have access to clean running water 24/7. We have access to clean bathroom facilities. We have access to a myriad of locations to get food, some to be bought and some even for free. We have clothes and shoes. We have solid shelter. We have electricity.
We were raised in a country full of wealth. And so, it is extremely difficult to follow when Jesus says “Come then, give all you own to the poor and come and follow me.” I know it is difficult for me.
I want my things. I want my comfort. I want my warm bed to rest in each night. I want my clothing options each day. I want my electronics. I want the variety of food available to me daily.
And these things are not wrong. At this point, God has not asked me to give up all of those basic comforts that He has blessed our nation to have, and move to a third world country. However, it should be my heart, my desire, my commitment, that if God ever does request such a thing of me, I would be willing to do it no matter the cost.
He may start small, asking me to give up the comfort of my bed to have a time of prayer in the morning. Or perhaps ask me to give up food one day weekly in order to focus on intercessory prayer. He may require me to give up a habit that is getting in the way of my submission, devotion and relation to Him.
“Teach me how to pray, Lord.” I said. He never said it would be easy.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” - Mark 10:23-31