Sunday sermon on the Gospel lesson from Luke 18:18-27
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
What is our capacity? What is our capacity to grow, to learn, to love, to serve, to be? Do we have a limit to our capacity? Can we ever max out our goodness?
These are some of the questions that are prompted by a conversation between Christ and a young rich ruler. The ruler came to the Lord desiring something that we all want, otherwise we wouldn’t be here – he desired salvation, he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
If this is not the question we are asking ourselves daily, then we are wasting our days.
Christ replied by quoting five of the Ten Commandments. All five of them have one thing in common – our relationship with others. I think Christ is trying to say here that the path to eternal life is not a lonely one, we walk this path together. Why? Because we will live together in eternity, forever, and we learn to not only co-exist, but to live together today.
And the ruler had kept all of these commandments since his youth. He wasn’t just looking for eternal life, he was already working towards his destination. And we have no reason to doubt him. Jesus doesn’t doubt him.
Instead, the Lord says, since you’ve kept these commandments, you have a capacity for more. In Christ, our capacity to grow, to learn, to love, to serve never reaches its limit. God is infinite, His gifts for us are infinite, therefore, what we can do in Him and He through us is also infinite.
If I have kept five commandments, then I can keep five more. If I fed one hungry person, then I can feed one more. If I can dedicate one day of the week for the glory of Christ’s Gospel, then I can dedicate one more, in whatever I do.
The work we do to inherit the eternal life is not just a bunch of rules we have to follow in order to go to heaven or to hell. We do this work so that we would become something, something more than we are right now. Again, in Christ we never stop growing, we never stop learning, we never stop loving or serving.
The Lord offered three more steps for the ruler, in order for him to keep growing and not stagnate – sell everything, distribute the money, follow Me. It’s important to keep in mind here that Christ offered these three steps to the ruler because he had kept the commandments, he was supposed to have the capacity to do more.
But the ruler was not yet ready to continue growing because he was very rich, he was not yet ready to let go of the possessions that possessed him. It’s not only the rich people who struggle to let go of their possessions and follow Christ. The pain of abandoning things that we possess is the same whether we abandon a lot or a little.
Christ often talks about money, or wealth, or possessions. And the theme is very clear – our wealth is not the problem, it’s what we do with it that concerns the Lord.
In Christianity it is plain – everything we have, possess, or own is not ours, not even life itself. Everything is a gift, and we are the stewards. Therefore, Christ calls us to possess what He has given us, to possess it, not be possessed by it. And more than that, possess it not for our sake, but for the sake of others.
Unfortunately, the ruler was possessed by his wealth, he was not yet ready to continue growing. He didn’t reach his capacity, he kept some commandments, he was striving for the right thing, he was asking the right questions. But he needed more time.
When other things possess us, it leaves less space for Christ and our growth in Him. We become stagnate once we allow ourselves to be possessed.
And so, what is our capacity? Is it limited at the present time by the things that possess us? Are we content with where we are or do we want to continue growing, learning, loving, and serving?
No matter where we are today, what we are capable of right now, this is not the end. In Christ, the capacity to do more, to be more is infinite.
What must we do to inherit eternal life? Keep Christ’s commandments, use what He has given us for His glory, and follow Him.
Unless otherwise specified, the articles here are posted by Father Aleksey, who has no sense of humor and is extremely straight forward.