loves us

A Message From Pastor Austin
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?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 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.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 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.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:17-22
I have so much stuff, I do. I have books, books, and more books.  I have fly rods and fly tying feathers. I have a mountain bike and a cruiser bike.  I have golf clubs and dusty barbells. I buy cardboard boxes, plastic boxes, and shelves to store all of it. It's never enough.
In my defense, it’s not just my stuff, it is “our” stuff. I may have lots of different stuff, but my girls outshine me with their plethora or wearables. They have clothes and shoes, shoes and clothes, and then, like a jack-in-the-box, flip flops, tennis shoes, and high heels pop up in the darkest corners of our home.  Add to that, crop tops and skinny jeans rule almost every inch of our closets. At last glance, my current closet territory ranges between 15 and 20% of the total closet space.  My collared shirts, jeans, t-shirts, and sweat pants live crushed together in a permanent claustrophobic state.  
The boys have stuff, too. Lots and lots of stuff.  They have Legos and fishing flies, basketballs and books. They have all kinds of funny and cheap stuff, mixed together into a potpourri of prized junk. The boys' stuff requires a once-a-year cleanse, (boys being boys) and the things we find entertain us.  When Kaden, now 12, was a little boy he chewed a chunk of cucumber into a football mouthpiece. He wore it “playing” football with his brother in the family room.  Weeks later, I pulled out a shriveled green string from my son’s dresser drawer. What in the world was it?  You guessed it, the cucumber mouth piece. We had a good laugh. 
We do the same, don’t we?  We save stuff that just doesn’t matter, but we think it does.  We stash our money, our possessions, and even our good works in the deposit box of life.  We think it all matters.  But what does Jesus think?  
As Jesus was beginning his journey, a rich young man knelt before him and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life.  He came armed with a pocketbook of good works, but Jesus knew his heart, just like he knows ours.
Jesus didn't scold. Instead he “looked at him and loved him.”  Our Lord Jesus knew what this man’s "god" had become. Stuff. The young rich man walked away sorrowful because he was imprisoned by it.  He had come to Jesus looking for further direction. Jesus laid it out for him, but when he got to what really mattered to the man, he couldn’t comply. He literally chose his stuff over Jesus.
It's important to remember that stuff isn't bad, but when it takes priority in our lives it is. We violate the first commandment making it our idol our god. Our good works don't earn us a ticket to Heaven. That thought is deadly. So, too, our "stuff" is worthless and can be an impediment to following Jesus.
Martin Luther said, "I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s that I still possess."
Let's not fall into the same trap the rich man did. One day we will wake up and the new car smell will be gone; our skinny jeans will no longer fit, and the cucumber has turned into a string.  We will open the drawer of our hearts and see our earthly treasures and good works all shriveled up.  
But I have good news!  In this depravity, we see Jesus who looks at us, loves us, and offers the best solution for restoration: leave our possessions and our good works at the foot of the cross, and celebrate the joy of our salvation.  If we do this, we will never leave sorrowful. In fact we don’t leave at all! We get to follow Jesus, rejoicing--not because of what we have done for him, but what he has done for us.  
Jesus, we thank you for what you have done. Help us to live joyfully every day, knowing that we are loved and saved by you and that there is nothing we can do to earn your grace.  We thank you for giving us hope, new life, and peace.  You alone, Lord Jesus are all we need.