So the question today is, what is it that holds us back? The rich young man seemed to have it all together: he acknowledged Jesus as the good teacher, so he must have been familiar with what Jesus said and did. He kept all the commandments, so he certainly had a religious upbringing and was zealous to follow the law. But, with all that, he still knew that something was lacking. “What do I still lack?” he asks. When Jesus reveals that the next step in following the Gospel involves letting go of his worldly possessions, he finds that to be somewhere he can’t go. He had many possessions, and he wasn’t yet ready to give them up.
So back to my first question. What holds us back? Is it many possessions? Maybe, but maybe not. It could be our work, or power, or what the neighbors might think. It could be that we don’t want to get out of our comfortable boats and follow Christ according to the way he is calling us. Whatever it is, it involves letting go – giving up what is not God and clinging to him alone. It’s not that Jesus didn’t want the rich young man to have money. He wanted him to have eternal life. And whenever we cling to what is not God, we are in effect giving up eternal life.
There’s the old joke about the man who fell off a cliff, and on the way down he snagged a precarious branch to hold on to. But there was no way he could get to safety, so he called out for help: “Is anyone up there? I need help!” Suddenly he heard a voice in response to his pleas: “Let go.” He thought about that for a minute and said, “Is there anyone else up there?”
We have to be ready to let go of whatever holds us back from accepting the life that God wants for us. What he has is so much better than whatever it is we’re holding on to. So the question is, will we give up what is holding us back, or will we give up eternal life?