Board games blur the line of strategy and ruthlessness. I immediately doubt someone who says, “Peter, I have a deal for you…” Their seemingly best intentions have been overshadowed by their perceived competitiveness. Yet, something spectacular happens when you strike a win-win deal.
Not just in board games. We love watching our favorite teams making great trades for players. Some of us enjoy the thrill of negotiating in a car lot or rummage sale. A rush comes over us when the offer on the table matches an expected benefit. Who doesn’t love a great deal?
Mark 10:17-31 records an offer from Jesus to a rich young ruler. He asks the ultimate question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (vs. 17). Wrapped within this question is the pursuit of happiness, becoming, and reached potential. Just like us, He looked for something more. Call it resolving the linger question. The need to see Jesus derived from a hope for meaning in life.
I missed a detail until I recently studied a few scholar’s perspective on this passage. Jesus responds to him with a series of commandments: Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother (vs. 19). What did Jesus leave out? No mention of coveting.
Imagine yourself in the midst of this conversation. Our deepest question of meaning directed to Jesus, met with a list lacking our greatest roadblock to Him.
N.T. Wright in After You Believe discusses how some see Christianity answering the question, “How must I behave?” Leaving the question “How can I become truly happy, the person I was meant be?” to people outside of Christianity. It can seem happiness comes outside the rules and guidelines. Wright suggests Jesus answers both questions the same; Follow me.
Jesus places an offer on the table, “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor. And follow me…”
Often, we place the emphasis on the first part of Jesus’ command. This man must completely give up all of his riches. Part of that has to do with us. What would the Savior ask us to leave behind? He might call us to give up a dream, title, position, wealth, power or pleasing other people. The ethics of the Kingdom of God look far different than what this world has to offer.
Yet, what we miss the second part. Jesus offers this man the opportunity to follow Him. In exchange of being owned by wealth, He has the opportunity to walk with the Good Teacher and gain eternal life.
What about us? One of the greatest evidences of God’s grace comes when He places an offer on the table. Exchange everything holding you back from following Him. In turn, find your deepest joy and meaning in Him, ultimately becoming the person He has made us to be.
C.S. Lewis put this way in the Weight of Glory:
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Jesus’ offer on the table moves us from holding on to things we think matter to find those things which eternally matter.
Photo credit to Jessie Schnall, you can see more of her work at Portraits by Jessie.