Come, Follow Me

Mark 10:17-27 – 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.”

2014-01-11 -  Come, Follow Me (IMG_9388)Trail junction near the Bear Lake trailhead.  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

“Money is the root of all evil.”  Have you ever heard someone say this?  Many Bible verses are misused or misinterpreted.  And, while I have no real data to support this, I suspect that the first sentence of 1 Timothy 6:10, which actually reads, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils,” is one of the most frequently misquoted verses.  The oft intended message of those misquoting this verse is that money and the rich are inherently bad.

Today’s passage from Mark’s Gospel is another that is taken out of context and used to condemn the wealthy.  When Jesus says, “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,” the inclination for many is to again conclude that money and the rich are inherently bad.

I think the key to understanding what Jesus says here is to look closely at the man’s question:  “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  The emphasis of the man’s question is on what he, himself, must do.  So, Jesus tells him that he must perfectly obey the commandments, sell everything he owns, give it to the poor, and follow him.  After all, God does demand perfection.  The difficulty for the rich man entering heaven, though, lies not in his money or possessions, but rather in the fact that he trusts his own abilities and wealth to accomplish something that only Christ can do.

It is certainly fair that we as Christians should challenge each other to be accountable for where we invest our time, talent, and treasures, because being a follower of Christ does demand a change in the way we live our lives.  But we really need to ask ourselves, what path to salvation are we following?  Do we trust in ourselves, our own abilities, and our possessions?  Or, do we trust in the infinite and eternal God of the universe?  Do we trust in the God who “so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)?  Because, you see, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

Before the Mountains Were Brought Forth

Psalm 90:1-4 – Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

2014-01-09 - Before the Mountains Were Brought Forth (IMG_9376)The mountains rise above Dream Lake on the trail to Emerald Lake.  Bear Lake Corridor, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains is awe inspiring!  For me it is difficult to understand how anyone can gaze upon such a magnificent place and still doubt the existence of God, our Creator, the one who was there “before the mountains were brought forth,” the one who “formed the earth and the world,” the one who is our God “from everlasting to everlasting.”

This is exactly what Paul is telling us in Romans 1:19-20, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

Follow in His Steps

1 Peter 2:21-24 – For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

2013-12-19 - Follow in His Steps (IMG_9353)Taking a break and enjoying the view after hiking the snow covered trail up to Emerald LakeRocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

If you have ever hiked on snow, you know that it is easier to follow in the footsteps of someone who has gone ahead of you, rather than blazing the trail yourself.  But, just because someone has traveled the path before you, does not mean the hike will be easy, you still need to do the work in order to get to the end of the journey and enjoy the scenic view.

Our walk as Christians is a lot like this.  As we read in today’s passage from 1 Peter, we do have someone who has gone ahead of us, in whose footsteps we follow.  We have someone who lived the perfect life that we are unable to live and who died the terrible death we so much deserve for our sinful ways.  That someone is Christ, who took our sins to the cross and shed his blood so “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”

Even though the trail has been blazed for us, we still have work we are called to do.  And, while our works can never earn the salvation already bought for us by Christ’s blood shed on the cross, being a Christian does not mean we can just sit idly by.  As we read in Christ’s own words from Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

The Christian walk is not always an easy one, especially when you consider in whose steps we follow.  But the rewards at the end of the journey will far exceed even the most scenic and spectacular views we find at the end of the trails we travel in this life.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.