Something to Talk About
(Mark 10: 17-31)
One of my favorite Blues singers, Bonnie Raitt, had a hit song many years ago entitled; Something to Talk About. I like it so much that I have it on Pandora, and when I hear it, it’s all I can do to stay seated. In any event, Bonnie tells a story about what she thought was a well-kept secret love affair. She says that people are talking, that she hears the whispers and that they think they’re lovers kept under cover. She says that she just ignores it, but they keep saying that they laugh a little too loud, stand a little too close and stare just a little too long, so maybe they’re seeing something they don’t. She goes on to say that she feels so foolish and that she’d never noticed if he could have been falling for her. She said it took the rumor to make her wonder and now she’s convinced that she’s going under, thinking about her mystery man every day and dreaming about him every night. She just hopes that he feels the same way and, if he does, then let’s really show it she says. She says, let’s give them something to talk about, a little mystery to figure out. A little mystery won’t hurt them, so let’s let them talk about love. How about they talk about it, she asks, talk about love.
People are talking. That’s what I thought about when I read the scripture reading for this morning. What if the rich young man really did go back home, sold all he had and gave the money to the poor? What do you think all of his friends, relatives and neighbors would have said? Do you think they would have asked themselves what had gotten into the young man to make him do something so inexplicable and rash, something that made no sense? Do you think they would have wondered what the mystery was that prompted him to act so out of character and give all he had to a bunch of people who had nothing? What if he told them he did it because he loved Jesus? Now that would really give them something to talk about, loving some guy named Jesus who claimed to be the son of God.
That’s where we find ourselves. Jesus and his disciples are continuing down the road after he had finished blessing a bunch of little children, when a stranger runs up to him and kneels before him. The stranger asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus responds, Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. You know the commandments: Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your father and mother. The young man responded, “Teacher, I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me. I think it’s important to note here that Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. Jesus was not rebuking him, or criticizing him, for being so wealthy. Jesus saw that he was earnest and wanted to know if he was on the right path to eternal life. Jesus is basically saying that it was all well and good that he had kept the commandments since he was a small boy, but if he really wanted eternal life, he was going to have to make a commitment to follow, really follow him and not let all of what he had accumulated get in the way. Jesus is basically saying that if you really love him, then show it by getting rid of that which you treasure so much and focus on doing his work and his will. Well, this statement by Jesus really impacted the young man as we are told he was dismayed at what Jesus said going away saddened, because he had many possessions.
You can imagine how shocked the disciples must have been as they witnessed this exchange. They’re probably thinking this guy would be the kind of person who could assist them financially with their little mission effort of wandering the countryside ministering to the have-nots. Instead, Jesus just runs him off. But Jesus uses the encounter as an object lesson for his disciples and us. He tells the disciples that it is hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God because of their focus on accumulating material things. It left them wondering who, if anyone, could be saved. Peter, never one to be at a loss for words, said, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you.” I think Peter was looking for reassurance after what he had just witnessed. So, Jesus responds, I assure you that anyone who has left, house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news will receive one hundred times as much now in this life—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms, with harassment,– and in the coming age, eternal life. But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first.
Jesus is talking about true love. True love is being unselfish, putting others ahead of yourself and treating others as you would like to be treated. You know your love is real when you weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. This doesn’t just mean the ones we love who are closest to us, but those out there in the mission field who are struggling just to get by. We show our love when we genuinely feel and show empathy to the last, the least and the lost. Often times, we have this misperception about love. We think it’s a two-way street. You have to get love in order to give love. If you give it, you expect to get it back in return and, only the loveable are entitled to your love. But the love of Jesus, the kind of love he wants us to show, is unconditional, like his unconditional love for imperfect people like us.
So why is it important that we love others? Well, it’s what God has commanded, that we love others as he has loved us. If you start with love, the rest is easy. If you don’t have the love of others above self in your heart, following Christ is impossible as Jesus pointed out to the rich young man. Once we’ve learned to love God’s way, the other challenges we face in our Christian walk, will fall into place. As the Apostle John said in 1 John 3: 17, If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? This is what the Apostle Paul is talking about, the true love of neighbor, loving as Christ loved us. The harmless act of loving a neighbor.
So, what about those rumors that we Christians love Jesus, that we profess to love our neighbors, that we really do treat people as we would want to be treated? And what about those rumors that we don’t practice what we preach? Well, let’s take a lesson from Bonnie Raitt, let’s give them something to talk about. Let’s substantiate the rumors that we love Jesus and really give them something to talk about.
Please pray with me.
Most gracious and loving God, move us to walk as one in the Spirit and be as one with you. As we strive to walk our Christian walk, keep us mindful to walk hand in hand with each other as we spread the news that you are in our land. Create in us the spirit to work with each other, side by side, to guard human dignity and save human pride. We praise you Father, from whom all things come, and we praise your son Jesus Christ and the Spirit who makes us one. And we pray, merciful Father, that they will know we are Christians by our love, our love for them as our brothers and sisters in your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.