So when Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Luke 18: 22
To whom much is given, much is expected. This was the theme that accompanied the message of following Christ during service on Sunday, 11 January. As the new year gets underway, members were asked to reflect on the resolutions they had made regarding their spiritual growth. Shepherd Lance Smith said often we are focused on setting goals for our natural life, and while there is nothing wrong with this, our material goals and accomplishments should not be at the expense of our faith and spiritual growth.
Explaining the Bible verse used for the service, the shepherd said the rich young man who came to Christ described himself as a person who had always obeyed the law (10 commandants). However, his line of questioning also revealed some uncertainty as to whether he had thereby already gained eternal life. And he also showed interest in life after death—in other words, he was looking beyond the confines of the purely human domain. Therefore Christ said to him: “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
“Why did he have to surrender everything? Why was that important at the time,” asked the shepherd, continuing by explaining that he needed to grow spiritually. “How have we grown spiritually,” he then asked, “How have we surrendered?”
The shepherd reminded us that God does not say, “do not aspire to great things”, but asks us to also aspire to obtain eternal life. “Our life should not just be about being the CEO or about wealth, it should be about much more. We should say we have achieved great things because we are serving Christ. We must bring Christ to the centre of our achievements.”
He also said that following Christ means we have a certain responsibility to use the gifts and talents given to us. “We must multiply our talents, create opportunities, and talk about our faith using different methods. In doing this, we become stronger in faith, we receive the benefits of Christ and we find joy in Christ.
A heartwarming reprimanding
Evangelist David Cooks said that the text word was a heartwarming reprimanding from God, reminding us of what needs to be done. “Yes, we have emotional and material needs overtaking us, but we need a shift in priorities. We need to realign ourselves, refocus and put God first. Ask yourself, do I still start and end my day with God, and before a meal, do I thank God for what I have and what I don’t have?”
God’s desire, he continued, is that we should be found worthy, and so ask yourself, he said, if Christ had to return today, would you be found worthy. “Weigh up your circumstances, prioritise, and see where you fall short. It’s not like the old days where you have to leave everything – God does need us to sustain our natural lives as much as he needs us to do his work.”
The shepherd added: “We are reminded to prepare every day to accumulate wealth in heaven … To follow Christ is to give to one another, to follow Christ is to serve one another. To follow means we need to surrender things, we need to grow beyond the law (10 commandments), we need to grow spiritually. Let it be our task this year. Ask God to guide you, and if you ask the question, let us be ready to receive the answer from God. As you achieve, do what is necessary to achieve eternal life. As we read in Galatians, we have been given spiritual gifts of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; let us allow the holy spirit to grow within us. Following Christ means we build on the fruits of the spirit and have joy in everything we do.”
* Adapted from the divine service held at Midrand Congregation on Sunday, 11 January 2015.