The Perfect Life

By: Jim O'Brien 

Hi Friend,

A man once came to Jesus in a respectful and even worshipful attitude to ask what good thing he could do to inherit eternal life.

He had great wealth so he may have expected advice on starting a philanthropic project. The Bible says he was a ruler so he was probably gifted with wisdom and therefore possessed confidence that his talent could be used to start a life changing project, build a cathedral, or leave a legacy that would continue beyond his life on earth.

We know he was a righteous man because he had disciplined himself to keep the law from the time he was a child. Then an amazing thing happened-scripture says that Jesus looked at him and loved him. (Mark 10:21) We're left with the impression that it was not the habit of Jesus to look for evil in men but rather, the judge of all mankind, could be moved by the virtue of a rich young man.

There was a degree of humility in him because he was modest enough to seek advice from Jesus. Because he asked, Jesus looked at him and responded, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."

And then one of the saddest things ever recorded in the Bible happened. The young man walked away from Jesus. He was standing face to face with the Messiah and God offered him one of the greatest rewards any human has ever been offered-and he turned it down because he could not give up his wealth.

Even the disciples wanted to know, "who then can be saved?" (Matthew 19:25).

By the standards of man, he had lived a perfect life. He was born to a wealthy family, lived a moral life, worked hard, earned respect from his peers, achieved success and now he was standing before Jesus. By all measurement he was head and shoulders above the disciples. They were unlearned fishermen, a tax collector, itinerant carpenters, scruffy around the collar while this man seemed flawless.

This incident came to mind once when Donna and I visited the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan. There is an herb garden next to the hotel dedicated to the deceased former owner; a poem had been found among his belongings and was engraved on a brass plaque at the end of the garden. I don't normally wander through herb gardens and I'm not necessarily impressed by poems on brass plaques. So I was surprised that this one caught my attention enough to make a lasting impression.

Part of the poem read, "Life doesn't have to be perfect to be precious." The irony was that I was standing next to one of the finest hotels in the world where everything SEEMED perfect. Yet the owner of the hotel had written a poem testifying to the wonder of life when it isn't perfect.

Maybe that's what Jesus was driving at. He chose men who were willing to give up everything, even though their "everything" amounted to far less than the rich young ruler. Like the widow who gave two mites, it was all she had.

Most of the time life isn't perfect on the outside. That isn't a requirement for it to be precious.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati

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