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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



Vance Havner once observed: "The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps. We must step up the stairs." In Mark 10: 17ff Jesus encountered the person we have come to know as "the rich, young ruler." Mark describes the rich young ruler as a man who dared to stare up the steps of discipleship. He came to Jesus asking, "What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). In the verses that follow a high-stakes drama unfolds as the Lord seeks to help the man turn his visi . on of following Jesus into an actual venture. The young ruler was apparently sincere and evidently impressed the Lord, for the text tells us that Jesus 'looking at him, loved him" (10:21). Jesus sought to spur the rich young ruler to get beyond staring up the steps that lead to eternal life to actually stepping up the stairs! The steepest step, and the one that turns out to be a stumblingblock, comes in Mark 10:21 where Jesus challenges the young man to move out of the shallow water of convenient religion into the deeper water of trust and obedience: "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." The story does not have a happy ending. Mark records that the young man "was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions" (10: 22). The rich young man stared up the steps but in the end was unwilling to step up the stairs! While obviously deeply interested in Jesus, he simply could not bring himself to the radical level of trust and obedience Jesus demanded. What he lacked was the willingness to get rid of the one thing that stood between him and the Lord and kept him from stepping up the stairs to eternal life! In the house of his heart, he had hung a "Keep Out" sign on the door of the room that led to his money and possessions. While welcome everywhere else, Jesus wasn't allowed to be Lord in there.

Do you lack one thing? Are there rooms or areas of your heart and life where Jesus and His lordship simply are not welcome? Having believed in Jesus, do you refuse to be baptized? Or having done that, are you allowing leisure or pleasure to keep you away from worship assemblies? Are you refusing to forgive one who offended you? Is Jesus Lord of your sexual behavior? Is your money and the way you spend it surrendered to Jesus? Is Jesus in charge of your lips, or are they loose? Is Jesus Lord of your life as a husband/father, wife/mother, teenager? What step is Jesus demanding you to take that so far leaves you at the bottom staring up the steps instead of trustingly and obediently stepping up the stairs?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ