Mark 10:17–22 (CSB)
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “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 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.”
21 Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
The backbreaking soul-crushing work of idol worship.
Even the Jews in the days of Christ would look down upon the Greeks and the Romans who fashioned idols out of wood or metal and in the same moment, would think, "I have to do all these things perfectly in order to be righteous."
Some people, especially today, think that the can do it. But in reality, there are some things that God asks us to do, that comes pretty easy, but struggles with pride, lust, anger, gluttony, or some other sin is kept in secret and hopefully no one finds out about it.
But others, see God's law as impossible because they clearly see the wickedness of their heart and the depth of their depravity and will cry out, "God have mercy on me, a sinner!"
God doesn't rush to those who think they are doing good. God speedily runs to the ones whose hearts have been broken by what they thought would be safe, loving, generous, and could give them what they thought they needed.
Maybe for some of us, the switch from worshipping something not God to God was a instant thing. No grief only joy and freedom.
For the rest of us, switching our affections was not easy. And to be honest, it was sad and hard and heartbreaking. Like so many single I know just put their hopes into being married, and then once they got married, it was like hell on earth.
Or if I can get this job and make this much money, then all of my worries will disappear. And they didn't. And you have to work so much harder to keep this job that you thought was going to make you happy.
Or how about putting your identity in something else other than Christ: like dating a whole bunch or even in your sexual preference or in your gender--so you can experience freedom.
We do get what we want if we want it hard enough--and once we get it, it fell way short. It didn't fill up our hearts like we thought it would.
The rich man was satisfied for a moment with his possessions and wealth. But he also wanted to follow Jesus. Christ was calling him to a greater, perfect satisfaction in God.
The rich man had to choose. And it grieved him because he had to give up everything to gain everything.
There is a story of another rich man, who gave up everything, to follow God. And in God's word, he is marked as a man who gave the literal, tangible context and menaing for Romans 6:
Matthew 27:57-61 (CSB) When it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body. Then Pilate ordered that it be released. So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in clean, fine linen, and placed it in his new tomb, which he had cut into the rock. He left after rolling a great stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated there, facing the tomb.
Romans 6:8-11 (CSB) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him. For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The first rich man was honest and he grieved. He grieved because he did what Christ commands each of us to do if we are going to follow him:
Luke 14:28-30 (CSB) “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.
Christ commands us to follow him. Christ commands us to obey him. Christ commands us to repent of our sins and turn them over to him. But have we counted the cost?
Early Church history was filled mostly with women then men. Why is that? The best answer I could come up with is: women wouldn't have a lot of power in that world and some men had whatever great power they had in this measly, tiny, little kingdom on earth. Women could easily give up whatever they got for Christ. Men counted the cost and most of them, like the original rich man, decided it was too much.
What did C.S. Lewis say in The Weight of Glory? Content with making mud pies in the slums when we have a forever holiday vacation at the beach.
Count the cost. Like the rich man, count the cost. But Christ says, "give it up--I have something far more precious, more costly, more beautiful than silver, gold or diamonds. Safer than your overthinking and trying to manage others. More powerful than your grip. More justice than your anger and rage."
That is just one person--Christ Jesus our Lord.