Asking questions is key to learning. When we don’t ask questions, sometimes we miss out on important pieces of information that we should know. On the other hand, when we do ask questions, if we don’t ask the right questions we also miss out on the answers that we really need to know. So the question is, are we asking the right questions when it comes to our discipleship?
As followers of Jesus, we all have questions. There are things about our faith and our life that we really want to know. When we think specifically about following Jesus, I’m sure many of our questions would fall within the realm of what does Jesus want me to do. It was in this line of thinking that a “rich young ruler” asked his question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
It seems like a legitimate question. I think we can all relate to this kind of question. What do we need to do? How should I live? The problem is that at the heart of this question is the assumption that we can do something to inherit eternal life. I’m a good person, so what do I need to do to get the reward. Jesus answers his question with a list of commandments. This is what he expected. Then Jesus gives him one more thing. “Get rid of that stuff that is getting in the way of following me and then follow me.”
What question are you asking Jesus about being a Christian? Are you asking what you can do? I’ve been there. I have struggled with the thought that I’m good and that’s good enough or that maybe my misbehavior has disqualified me for the prize. The question that Jesus wants us to ask is how can we follow him. Jesus’ real answer it to the rich young ruler is to follow him. He needed to give up the riches that he was following and follow Jesus instead.
Are you trying to be good enough? If you think you can be or that there’s something that you can do to inherit eternal life, Jesus is going to show you what you lack. Inheriting eternal life is not about doing anything other than following Jesus. In another passage, Jesus responds to a crowd asking a similar question saying that the work that God requires of us is to, “to believe in the one he has sent.” To trust God, or to have faith in God, is all that we need to do. The rest is following Jesus. Then when we are following Jesus, we will end up doing good things. The next time you go to God or read scripture, don’t ask what good things do you need to do, ask how you can follow Jesus.