16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Matthew 19:16-22 (New International Version)
The Value of Security
What is it that all people value above all things? Some say it is wealth, others fame, and still others say community. All of these things are just tools that we use in order to get what we want; and that thing that we want more than anything else is security.
Protection from the World
We are filled with all kinds of anxiety due to the dangerous unpredictability of the world we live in. As a result, we strive to surround ourselves with things that make us feel safe; whether they be material possessions, fame, or relationships. However, these forms of security are not permanent and have a tendency of failing, leaving us more anxious than before.
Protection in the Afterlife
In addition to the dangers of this life, another thing that makes us anxious is the answer to this question: What will happen to us when we die? Many hope that when they die, they will be able to go to heaven and experience eternal life. The problem is, many of us don’t know how to go to heaven or what is required of us to get there. That was the question that the young ruler in Matthew 19 asked of Jesus.
Security in Rules
When the ruler asked Jesus his question, he already had in mind a set of criteria that he thought would qualify him to receive eternal life. That criteria was based on a notion that most religions use today; that is if you can follow a set of rules, you will get eternal life. From what we can tell, the young ruler was very diligent in obeying the rules which God gave to Israel. Surely, this was enough to get into heaven.
The Missing Element
While Jesus admired the ruler’s devotion to God’s law, He knew that the man was missing one important element. When Jesus told the ruler that if he sold his earthly possessions and followed Him and that he will have what he wanted, the man went away feeling very sad. That missing element was a total commitment to God. The young ruler found his security in his earthly possessions and didn’t trust God enough to be His security.
Trusting in the Unseen
Relying on materials things and following rules doesn’t guarantee security in this world or in the next. Only when we are willing to let go of these things and trust completely that the Lord will care for us will we find true security. This isn’t easy for most people to do because they have a difficulty in trusting in something that is not easily seen while things like rules and material things are seen everyday.
While we may not see the Lord physically, if we take pause and pay attention to the things around us, we can see the work of the Almighty all around. Consider the sun, the water, and even the air. While science may claim these are just natural phenomenon, they can’t explain how these three elements work together to make life happen. The only explanation that I can think of is it is proof that the Lord is providing for our needs.
Where’s Your Faith?
While wealth and rules fail often, things created by God like the things in nature are relatively consistent. Therefore, if we can trust the Almighty with the basic essentials like air, water, and sunlight, we could trust Him to keep us secure in every aspect of our lives. So what is the key to acquiring security in this life and the life after? It all goes down to whom you place your faith in.
If you are a follower of Christ, your faith should be grounded in Christ. If you are still trying to find security in material things or rules, it is time that you put away these things. If this idea is making you nervous than that means your heart is not totally committed to God. Repent of this and return to the Lord and you will find true security.