As Jesus continued down the road, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. You know the commandments: Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your father and mother.” “Teacher,” he responded, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” But the man was dismayed at this statement and went away saddened, because he had many possessions (Mark 10:17-22, Common English Bible).
This is part 24 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.
When I preached this series a few years back one of the many themes I have used this month (after all, in a one month sermon series you can’t really use more than four themes) that I didn’t use was this one. When the series finished I was asked, “How can you preach a sermon series you title, “Pass the…” and base it on the Thanksgiving table and not preach a sermon featuring the turkey, the most basic staple of the Thanksgiving table?
The people who asked, convinced me of my error and I wrote a newsletter article about the turkey on the table. To be honest, I don’t remember what I said and I no longer have the computer I used so this is all new.
Those folks who came to me were right. The turkey is the main thing on the average Thanksgiving table. While some of us might have other things on our table as the main course for Thanksgiving (see my post titled “Pass the.. Ribs”). For most of us, this year for me as well, later today, turkey will be front and center at our table. The turkey is the main thing.
In our lesson for today, the story of the “Rich Young Man” the young man asks Jesus what he has to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies that he needs to follow the commandments. For the young man that is already a regular practice and he wants to know what else is needed. Jesus tells him go, sell all he has, give the money to the poor and then come follow him. The story ends with the young man leaving without that promise, without Jesus because he was attached to his stuff.
For the Rich Young Man, the main thing should have been, following Jesus. Instead it was protecting his stuff. His things meant more to him than eternal life with Jesus. That is a sad state of affairs.
All too often, the same is true for us. We too are more interested in something else than we are living and being a part of the Kingdom. At least in my experience, far more often than not, our stuff, our money is what becomes the main thing. Why is it, that we say we trust God, we even act like we trust God, until it comes to our money, our stuff. Please understand, I am not faulting people for earning what they can and saving saving what we can. John Wesley told us to do as much when he said, “Earn all you can, save all you can…” but he didn’t stop there. The quote finishes by saying, “…and give all you can.” For way too many of us, we fall short of giving what we can. In doing so, we make our money the main thing and it is a stumbling block to true faith in Jesus Christ.
What might it say if the cranberry sauce were the main thing on the Thanksgiving table?What if the green beans were the star? For most of us who are not vegetarians/vegans, it just wouldn’t be the same.
In our faith walk, when we allow other things to become the main thing, when Jesus Christ is not the main thing in our lives, things aren’t the same. And, if faith in Jesus Christ is not first on the list, our decisions might become evident in our eternity as well.
Turkey really is a good way for us to look at what is the main thing. When we sit down to a good helping of turkey today, whether you like the white meat of the dark, because it is the main thing on the table, let it remind you to keep Jesus as the main thing in your life.
So, would someone please pass the turkey?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Peace,
Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved