8.10.03

I just read the two Real Live Preacher Dramatized Version stories that the real live preacher has on his website. Excellent stories, and they are making me think. I particularly like the story of blessing the breast and the womb It makes me think about what it means to be a christian.

Along the same lines, something else i was thinking about last night was the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30 I was thinking of sermon ideas, and ended up modernizing the story, which I did much like Real Live Preacher does his things. I really did think of this last night though, but I was definitely moved to write it out by the RLP's stuff. In any case here is what i came up with (its a bit unpolished)

Meet Tim. Tim is a 22 year old man; he has blond hair and blue eyes, broad shoulders, deep chest, low voice, and a commanding presence. He is handsome and fit, and has a girlfriend in university; he plans to ask for her hand in marriage next week. He is a humble and gentle man. Tim is not in university. After highschool he founded an internet business. Since then it has become very successful; in fact, this year Tim became a multimillionare. This morning Tim was driving in his brand new Porsche to meet his girlfriend for lunch, when he saw Jesus in a park, playing with some children. Jesus looked so peaceful, so joyful, and Tim couldn't help feel some of that in his heart.

Tim thought to himself, "everything in my life is going so well, I have everything I have ever dreamed of and more. Now God has given me the chance to get one last thing squared away; my afterlife." And with that, he turned around, and pulled up to the curb next to Jesus.

Getting out of his car Tim approached Jesus.
"Hey Jesus."
"Hello"
"Do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Not at all, I'd love to help out. Give me one minute" At this point JEsus had a little boy in his arms, and he put him and down and told the children to go play.
"Whats your name?"
"Tim"
"Cool, well go ahead."
"Well, I do my best to be a good person, but what must I do to get into heaven?"
Jesus looked at him for a second, and then said "Why do you bring up what is good? You must understand that there is only one who is good, God."
"Ok, I will remember that. But how do I get into heaven?"
"Have you heard of grace and faith?" Jesus replied.
"What do you mean by those?"
"God, through me, graciously offers forgiveness, and it is by faith that you recieve this."

Now, at this point, Tim was in the clouds. He had indeed heard of this, and asked the Lord into his heart many years before. It looked like it was a done deal.

"I accept this. I believe you came and died, rose again on the third day. I know that God sent his Holy Spirit down after you ascended. I prayed the pray. I have done these things, and accept them."

Full of Joy, Tim turned to leave. But the look in Jesus eye stopped him; it was an odd look; Tim did not understand it, but he saw compassion and sadness, and hope.

Turning around, he asked the question he dreaded "Jesus, do I still lack in some way?"
Jesus replied, his voice quiet, the look in his eye now becoming the tone of his voice "If you want to be perfect go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor. and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

As those words proceeded from Jesus mouth Tim's world exploded before his eyes. He had everything, but the one final thing he wanted required him to give it all up. How could you do this God? I thought this was going to be it, and then I could live out my days in peace, assured, and comfortable. Why? I can't do this....

And without saying a word, his head drooping in a way that it hadn't since before he had vowed to fail for the last time, vowed to never be in want, Tim walked back to his porsche and drove away.

On his way to the university campus, Tim thought about what Jesus had said. Who knows exactly what conclusions Tim reached. It is not for no reason that Jesus told John the baptist "blessed are those who do not fall away on account of me". Perhaps by the time he got the campus, Tim had decided Jesus was not the way. How could anyone be the way who made demands like that? Maybe Tim was a little more attached to his faith, and convinced himself that that wasn't Jesus at all. Maybe he was honest with himself, wrestling with this issue through many sleepless nights, even delaying his engagement because he was so troubled. Or more likely, by the time he Got to lunch he had rationalized the whole thing away. Jesus didn't say i needed to do that to get to heaven, but to be perfect. Well, I don't need to be perfect, I just want to be saved. Unfortunately, Tim did not hear the conversation that followed his departure, or he may have come to grips with this. One thing I do know for sure, whatever conclusion Tim reached, the look in Jesus eye, the tone of his voice, and the moment his world exploded in front of his eyes would remain with him forever, haunting him in moments of indecision or tranquility.

Meanwhile, back at the park; The children were silent in a way that only children can be, for they were the only ones there who grasped the full gravity of the situation. The parents were whispering among themselves, wondering what this meant for their lives, and for their children.

Jesus meanwhile watched Tim go, still hoping, but Tim did not look back or turn around. After an uncomfortable few minutes of silence, he turned around. Dried tears stained his face and he said to those around him "It is indeed hard for a rich man to enter my kingdom. It is easier to fit a semi into a one car garage than for a rich man to enter heaven."

This brought gasps of astonishment, stares of wonder, whispers of amazement from all who heard it. Question after question ran through their minds. The disciples got into a group and whispered amongst themselves. And it was one of them who finally spoke up.
"If he can't be saved who can be?"

Jesus thought for a moment, understanding the importance of this question, and seeing an opportunity to give some hope and direction to these people. "You can't save yourself, you will never be able to. It is only possible with God."

The people could no longer read this as they used to though, in the safe model of salvation by grace through faith, for Jesus had addded a harsh demand on the end of this. Before Jesus could continue, another one of the dsciples interupted "We have left all to follow you, surely there is a great reward awaiting us?"

Jesus sighed, on the inside laughing and crying at the same time. "Indeed, there is great reward waiting for you, and for all who sacrifice to follow me. Your faith must touch your life, you cannot follow me without becoming a different person. Sacrifice will be neccessary. And, many who you think are first will be last; many who you think will be last will be first. The world is not as simple or straightforward as you think, and I am here to turn it upside down."

Jesus then gathered them into a circle, in that park, and set out to explain further. "Let me tell you a story....."

And just as Tim often thought of that day, so did Jesus, remembering Tim and the lesson he had taught.

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