I love being around people who encourage me. I love it when they tell me what a great job I am doing, how incredible I am. We all do, if we are being honest. Those who tell us what we want to hear are so easy to be around. Seriously, since we are being honest, I could listen to others tell me how awesome I am for quite a while before I tire of it.
I might even protest a little, then prompt them to get started again. “Oh stop…. Now… come on, stop it…no come on.”
We love being around those who tell us what we want to hear.
Two things happen if these are the only people we hang out with.
- We have to put on a performance for those around us only showing the awesomeness that is in us. We are now on stage. Goodbye to anything real coming out of our mouths.
- Those around us also have to perform or we replace them with others who will tell us what we want to hear.
Welcome to the theater of flattery. Ever been here?
Jesus did not approach the world this way. He came to save the world and tell us about a hope that had nothing to do with our performance. He came to tell us that he loves us no matter what and that we need to stop performing and get real.
We see this example in the story below where a wealthy young man approaches Jesus.
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
… But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
We can picture this young man. He is a mover and shaker. He is one of those young men who just have “It.” They seem to have it all figured out. It all works out for him and he seems to have a plan for everything. People flatter him wherever he goes. They have been telling him he was meant for great things since he was a youth.
We know this guy more importantly, Jesus knows this guy.
It says in the Message Bible that when Jesus responded to him, “The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.”
Many times, as Christians, we read this story and talk about the dangers of the love of money.
I look at this story a little different as I see a young man that represents so many of us. He is successful and wants more. He wants to be closer to Jesus and is doing the best he can to balance life, family, career, faith.
By seeing how Jesus responds to this young man, we see a picture of how He responds to us. This gives me hope to go on every day and take the step that leads me closer to Jesus.
- He loves you where you are. He may not love where you are but He loves you. It says that Jesus felt a genuine love for the young man. He may not love where you are but that does not affect the amount He loves you. Let me say that again. He loves you regardless of where you are. You may be on tip of the world or on the bottom of the pile. His love for you never changes and He always loves you.
- He loves you enough to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. He knows exactly what you are holding onto that is keeping you from moving forward.
- He loves you too much to let you stay where you are. In Fact, He loves you so much, he is willing to have you be mad at him for being the one person who will speak the truth you need to hear.
We need this love in our lives. A love that says, I am willing to sacrifice and give my life for you knowing that you will screw up. When you do mess up I love you. When you win, I love you. When you lose, I love you.
He turned away when Jesus spoke truth to him. He may never have heard it before. I wonder what would have happened if He had stayed and just hung around a little longer.
God’s desire is that respond to His love with faith and take a step closer to Him. To hang out even when we don’t’ understand why He would ask us to do something that crazy. The Faith to endure is built by knowing God’s ridiculous love for us.
That is the love that changes the world… Starting with Us.