Most people say they want things easy, but on the contrary, our human instinct longs for steps and rules. One look at a magazine cover proves it. It’s about control. If we have steps to follow, we can control the outcome. We can have a toned body, a peaceful home, and gobs of money.A simple look at all the world’s religions from the beginning of time starkly shows this instinct in action. Man-made religions have lots of steps and rules. By their own actions, the adherents hope to earn eternal life, if only they work hard enough and do everything right.
Jesus offered something different and radical. He gave one command—“Follow me.” The simplicity of the Christian message proves it comes from God, not man. But the simplicity of the Christian message makes it hard for people to fathom. Jesus asks us to give up control, accept the fact that we can never earn eternal life by our own power, and follow the only source of Life.That’s why the rich young ruler in Mark 10 turned away. He asked Jesus, “‘What must I do to inherit eternal life’” (Mark 10:17, italics mine). He’d followed the Ten Commandments but knew in his soul it wasn’t enough. He wanted an Eleventh Commandment, one more good thing to do to tip him over the edge. Instead, Jesus asked him to surrender, to give up the one thing he loved more than the Lord (his money), and to follow Him. And the man turned away.
Jesus then said, "'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God'" (Mark 10:25). Why? Could it be because the rich man has obtained everything he's ever wanted by his own power? Because an achievement-oriented person finds it extraordinarily difficult to give up control? Because he or she will always be searching for more steps, more good things to do? Because simplicity is more difficult to accept than complexity?
Here is the paradox Jesus offered...
In ceasing to strive, we gain what we could never earn. In one step, we receive as a gift from God what we could never achieve in a thousand steps. In surrender is victory.“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” Ephesians 2:8-9.