One way of looking at this Gospel story of the rich young ruler is that Jesus did an intervention. The rich man was addicted to wealth and money, but he didn’t see it. In fact, he thinks he is quite godly and spiritual. After all, he’s an upstanding citizen, a religious man, and attentive to God’s law. It’s a sad story because the man walks away un-transformed by his encounter with Jesus and refused to follow him. He didn’t see himself as hopeless and desperately needing to change. He held to his denial.
We are all addicted to sin. If you want to push back on that statement and are thinking, “Well, I don’t have as much money as _____” or, “So-and-so really has a problem with this…” then you are practicing what we call, in terms of addiction, denial. Truth be told, all of us are in some sort of denial about how much we really trust in paychecks, bank accounts, investments, and a wealth of stuff. Even people who truly do not have much money can have an addiction by always thinking about money and wishing for it as the answer to their problems, as if wealth is the highest good to attain in life.
Jesus puts the problem of sin out there for us all to see by communicating to us that sin cannot be managed – sin needs to die. The good news is that through sheer honesty and facing up to our own addiction to things we can find grace. Grace always has the last word. Grace trumps addiction to money, stuff, and anything else. God’s love and acceptance is not based on our screw-ups, but on Christ’s forgiveness through the cross. Jesus put sin to death. We are simply invited to bring it out in the open, confess it, and follow Jesus.
Gracious Lord Jesus, you invite me to follow you. All I need do is to let go of everything and do it. That is exactly what I choose to do. My life is yours; do with it what you will. Amen.