If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
Several years ago, I heard a speaker say that he thought most of us would ask, “When is Christ returning? How much longer do we have to wait?” That’s not what I’d ask, though. Does it really matter to you whether it’s 10 months, or 10 years, or 10,000 years? We could quite literally die today (though we don’t like to think about it), so we should be working on being ready to meet God at any moment. We should be watchful, yes, but the focus is on growing to be like Him and knowing Him more fully.
With that in mind, I think my question would be more like that of the rich young man in Matthew 19 and Mark 10.
The First Question
Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Matt. 19:16-19)
I get the impression that this is the bare minimum required to get into God’s kingdom. We know from Hebrews that the law by itself isn’t enough to save us, so we’ll assume this list implies that we also repent and accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. There’s also a relational aspect implied.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10)
So, to get into God’s kingdom we need to repent and be cleansed of our sins, keep the commandments, and walk in relationship with God. But what if we feel like we’re doing all this, and still there’s something missing?
The Second Question
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matt. 19:20-22)
That’s the question I would ask — “What’s missing from my Christian walk? What do I still lack?” Honestly, though, the thought of getting an answer is kinda scary. I think Jesus would look into my heart and find the biggest thing that is pulling me toward this life instead of Him, and tell me to give it up. Would I be like the disciples, who could say, “we have left all and followed You” (Matt. 19:27), or would I be like this young man who wasn’t ready to go that far for Jesus?
Paul had a proper perspective on this sort of situation. He didn’t even ask the question, but Jesus answered it anyway. Once Paul realized that faith in Jesus as the Messiah was what his walk with God needed, he gave up his prestige as a pharisee to become a persecuted, itinerant preacher.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ …. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (Phil. 3:7-8, 12)
Both here and in Matthew 19, the word “perfect” is translated from teleios (G5046), which we talked about last week. It is connected with growth as a Christian; becoming more mature as we become more like Christ.
We might be able to get by doing the bare minimum, but that’s not how we reach perfection. We become perfect by learning to think like God (Matt. 5:43-48) and giving up anything that keeps us from fully committing to Christ. Let’s not allow fear to hold us back from taking a good, hard look at ourselves and asking God, “What do I still lack?”