Man to Man -- Going on to perfection: Challenges

11/25/2013

MAN TO MAN

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Prov. 27:17

Going on to perfection: Challenges

I don’t claim to be a Wesleyan scholar, nor a theologian, but Wesley’s thesis of going on to Christian perfection tells me that he knew that we Christians are on a lifelong journey of becoming like Christ. And I believe that--that journey will be fraught with challenges.

Becoming (growth), is difficult to achieve without challenges.

Jesus and Wesley seem to agree, judging from the way they continually challenged their followers.

I had a friend that was fond of saying, “I’m afraid to study the Bible –- I already have more light than I can walk in.” That statement continues to come to mind again and again, even these 30+ years later, as I study the Bible. It seems that every time I open the Bible and read the gospels, Jesus is constantly challenging those around him. His parables always challenge me regarding my life choices and attitudes. But, there are two live incidents recorded where Jesus challenged individuals that particularly speak to the idea of growth through challenge.

The first one is the rich young ruler (Mk. 10:17-31 ; Mt. 19:16-30; Lk. 18:18-30). My favorite is the Mark account because it says that Jesus looked (deeply) at him and loved him. You can’t help but like the young man. He’s a good person (“..all these (commands) I’ve kept since I was a boy.”); who realizes that there is more to the righteous life than just keeping the law (asking the right question); and he believes Jesus has the answer (coming to the right source). Plus, he was humble, because even though he was a rich person, he fell on his knees at Jesus’ feet. I think that’s why Mark says that Jesus loved him. Jesus saw the unpretentious sincerity of the young man’s question. For all this, one wants this young man to make the right choice! So, knowing what was standing between where the young man was and the life he desired to lead, Jesus issues him a challenge –- an opportunity to grow in his faith.  With this challenge, Jesus puts His finger directly on the hindrance –- his attachment to his wealth. I get the sense that Jesus really wants the young man to respond in the way that will lead to a fuller life (Jn. 10:10). Jesus wanted him to grow in his faith, to take him to the next level. Unfortunately, the young man was not up to the challenge. The young man’s problem lay in his attachment to his wealth.

We may have some other obstacle, like ego, or pride, or fear, that prevents us from being the witness we wish to be. Are we willing to humble ourselves before the Lord, like that rich young ruler, and invite Him to look deeply inside of us and challenge us by revealing what is keeping us from stepping up to the next level?

Next week: that other incident I referred to - a different kind of challenge.


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