Luke Nice People or The New Creation

September 13, 2020 | Buster Brown

"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.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “‘Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,’Then who can be saved?’ 27 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.'" Mark 10:17-27

This passage is not about the path of renunciation, but it is about self-awareness and glad hearted obedience.

The rich young ruler was a “headhunter’s” optimal candidate. But his “niceness” kept him from seeing his desperate need for a savior.

  • The problem of “niceness”.

"One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give and so fail to realise your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God. Now quite plainly, natural gifts carry with them a similar danger. If you have sound nerves and intelligence and health and popularity and good upbringing, you are likely to be quite satisfied with your character as it is. “Why drag God into it?” you may ask. A certain level of good conduct comes fairly easily to you. You are not one of those wretched creatures who are always begin tripped up by sex, or dipsomania, or nervousness, or bad temper. Everyone says you are a nice chap and (between ourselves) you agree with them. You are quite likely to believe that all this niceness is your own doing: and may easily not feel the need for any better kind of goodness. Often people who have all these natural kinds of goodness cannot be brought to recognise their need for Christ at all until, one day, the natural goodness lets them down and their self-satisfaction is shattered. In other words, it is hard for those who are “rich” in this sense to enter the Kingdom.

It is very different for the nasty people - the little, low, timid, warped, thin-blooded, lonely people, or the passionate, sensual, unbalanced people. If they make any attempt at goodness at all, they learn, in double quick time, that they need help. It is Christ or nothing for them. It is taking up the cross and following - or else despair. They are the lost sheep; He came specially to find them. They are (in one very real and terrible sense) the “poor”: He blessed them. They are the “awful set” he goes about with - and of course the Pharisees say still, as they said from the first, “If there were anything in Christianity those people would not be Christians.'" CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

"A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world - and might even be more difficult to save." CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

  • Self-justification vs. Self-awareness.

“Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” (v. 20) He had kept Commandments 5-9 and had not been involved in defrauding people, but his “obedience” was observable and perfunctory.

"Every man, being stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness, in this way necessarily obtains at least some knowledge of God. Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us that in the Lord, and none but He, dwells the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves..." John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion, 1-1-1

  • Jesus graciously exposes our achilles heel (a weakness that can lead to our downfall).

There is nothing wrong with wealth. Wealth leads us into sin when it becomes our idol. There is nothing wrong with the good gifts of God, but these good gifts can become idols as we break the 1st and 2nd Commandments.

  • We are to allow the Holy Spirit to use our brokenness over our sin as a springboard to a more thorough pursuit of Christ and deeper satisfaction in Him.

"Does Christianity encourage morbid introspection? The alternative is much more morbid. Those who do not think about their own sins make up for it by thinking incessantly about the sins of others. It is healthier to think of one’s own. It is the reverse of morbid. It is not even, in the long run, very gloomy. A serious attempt to repent and really to know one’s own sins is in the long run a lightening and relieving process. Of course, there is bound to be a first dismay and often terror and later great pain, yet that is much less in the long run than the anguish of a mass of unrepented and unexamined sins, lurking in the background of our minds. It is the difference between the pain of the tooth about which you should go to the dentist, and the simple straight-forward pain which you know is getting less and less every moment when you have had the tooth out." CS Lewis, God in the Dock

  • Gifts, talents and lives given to the Lordship of Christ experience the blessing of human flourishing under the hand of the Good Shepherd.