By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
Last week’s article talked about two men who asked Jesus the same question, “’What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Luke 10:25, Luke 18:18). According to John 17:3, we inherit a place in God’s kingdom by knowing Him. The conclusion was that as we move closer to Christ, our life reflects His.
The next logical question should be what it would look like for me to become more like Jesus.
The answer is reflected in Jesus’ replies to the two men. It’s not so much doing religious things or having a great worship service, but having godlike relationships with others. To the lawyer, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan who showed mercy toward the one in need.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus saying to the Pharisees, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” We ourselves are needy, he came for the needy, and when we help others in need we become an extension of God’s personality in ministry.
In the early days of our country, prospective colonists for Georgia were interviewed in Europe to determine who were the “worthy poor” and those who were unworthy of gaining passage to the new land. Thankfully, Jesus accepts everyone and makes us worthy.
Our first church in Kentucky was full of teenagers from poor families, much like their pastor just a few years prior. One theme of my ministry there was that we could have confidence in what God will do with each of us if we allow Him to work in our lives.
The second person to ask about eternal life was rich, and Jesus’ answer to him was followed by a discussion of how wealthy people have trouble getting beyond the relationships they have with their possessions.
Peter had witnessed the encounter (Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18) and asserted that the disciples had left all to follow the Master. Jesus assured him anyone who leaves all will receive many times what he gave up, as well as eternal life (Luke 18:29-30).
This giving up things isn’t a one-time deal. We should daily place our home, family, job and possessions at His disposal.
The motive for placing all on the altar is not that we will get something more, but that we will be able to help others. And the reality is those who sacrifice for God gain a family much larger than the one we were born into. The Prodigal Son was a member of a family – even when he was greedy and wanted only his inheritance – but he wasn’t experiencing quality family life until he humbled himself and came back to the father who loved him.
One of our sons texted his brothers recently and on short notice, three of them drove separately 400 miles round-trip to meet us. It was the day before Father’s Day, they’d wanted to surprise me, and we spent several enjoyable hours together.
Seeing them together, I reflected again how different they’ve always been, but also how the girls they married have changed and impacted each of them. In earthly families, and as we’re adopted into a heavenly family, we grow more and more alike through constant sharing.
If we want eternal life, God has made himself available through the Spirit to reflect Christ’s light on us.