7/8/2018 – Mark 10:17-27

by admin on July 8, 2018

7/8/2018 – Audio Message

Principles Jesus Taught – 2

Robert Schuller

8 July 2018

Mark 10:17-27

Robert Schuller, creator of the Crystal Cathedral, and inventor of popular positive thinking religion is probably one of the most original of American religious thinkers.  He’s been praised; vilified, copied and denounced…he must be doing something right.  And if you’ve ever made the pilgrimage to Anaheim, CA. you’ll see the monument to his success.   Sadly his family couldn’t keep his vision alive; it’s now the Cathedral for the Catholic Diocese of LA. 


Certainly no one other than Schuller has had such an impact on the shaping of 20th century Xty than he.  For all of his controversial, out of the box, sometimes sappy approaches you do have to credit the guy with original thinking, daring action, visionary planning and the charisma to pull it all off.   I think that much of the mainline criticism of Dr. Schuller is just plain jealousy. 


But this isn’t a conversation about Robert Schuller, but about a principle of Jesus which Schuller is at least willing to frame in a modern day happening.  Schuller speaks of possibility thinking, which means that there is something impossible out there, standing in the way.  I like that emphasis on possible – impossible, not because it builds big churches but because it’s at the heart to Jesus central message.


  When the rich young ruler came to Jesus with his question he didn’t expect a revolution in religion. 

All three Synoptics.  Lk calls him “rich.” Young ruler.


What do I got to do to inherit…..?  To deserve—Message

What’s the bare minimum to pass? 


It’s the question of most Xns—at least in our world. What do I got to do to be pretty good—good enough?  How much of Jesus is needed to stay out of hell?  I don’t really believe in hell but just in case…I don’t want to hedge my bets.


I call it the Jesus vaccinationà I get just enough Jesus to make me immune from the real thing.  It will keep me from catching the genuine article.


The man’s question beckons an answer.

Jesus: Buddy, you already know about eternal life; salvation; God’s way; spiritual life.  He quotes the commandments—the 2nd table—stuff regarding people.


That’s a cinch; done ’em since a kid.

Jesus: well, you really are a spiritual high achiever.  OK, strip down, sell everything, give away the profits and then come follow me. 


Follow à acolyte, acoustic.  Hear my voice. Hang with me. Chill together. Male bond. à Do what I do, on the job training. 

[[anyone getting warm yet?  You will]]


Sell it all.  Give up all claims at security, protection, control, the way you want life to work out for you—-totally surrender.  What do I got to do to deserve eternal life?  Give up.

You can just see the pretty goodness of this guy melt.


Pretty good is our category, our thinking.  Jesus sets up God’s thinking for eternal life.  Call this heaven if you need to.  Aren’t good people going to get there?  God’s thinking? Repentance, conviction of sin, abandonment of self—utter desperation.   Is this registering on the impossible meter yet?


Yikes! Now what?  Help!

Notice that Joel Osteen doesn’t preach like this.

 Up to this point the rich young ruler’s focus has been: What must I do to deserve? 


Now Mark includes more in the conversation. 

Jesus: you can’t get one of these rich people saved.   Easier to shove a fully loaded camel through a needle;

Pigs will fly first.

Cold day in July

Hell will freeze over…


Disciples:  Wait a minute.  We’re all in that boat.  Come on, Jesus, everyone wants and need money and shiny things. At that rate, who in the world can get in?  Message: who has any chance at all?


Jesus: snowball’s chance in hell.  Absolutely impossible for all you time choreographers; calendar jugglers; tyrant bosses; resentful spouses; grief stricken folks; partying teens……did I miss anyone? 



It’s the addition of the others into the conversation that raises the specter of impossibility.  Other people make it impossible for any of us to be pretty good.  Either the persons themselves or the situations they create do us in. 

There is always somebody out there with the spiritual gift of spoiler to my pretty goodness. 


Most of us operate with a system of Xty that saysà

  • Personal savior
  • Personal salvation
  • When I get to heaven. 

It’s the extension to the greatest show on earthà me.


That collective cry “Who then?” is a question that invites a revolutionary answer.   Jesus’ ministry is not designed to give us just new skills, or new beliefs; but a fundamental shift of our minds.  Repentance = change your mind.  That shift is individual and collective.


When we forget the communal nature of the self we identify the self with the ego and give ourselves a promotion to what we think we deserveà deity.  That’s what the rich young ruler is really asking.  How soon can I take over for God?


Friend: self will run riot.   That’s why we become so frighteningly satisfied with being just pretty good.  Hey, I make a pretty good god.


It’s only through our interaction with others—the good, bad, ugly—where we learn to surrender totally to God.   When we finally decide that we can’t really do the 2nd table of the commandments, we will be ready for the 1st one.  God.


Look like?  Marriage as conversion.  Die to the superiority of our own ideas.

Give up limited objectives and move toward God’s will for us.  Which is not what parking space we will get but dealing with the messiness in the world which we created.


In desperation we cling to grace.  God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. 


Pretty good = things I can do.  Desperation = allowing God to work.


The big end result of Schuller’s possibility thinking was that beautiful building out there in CA—the Crystal Cathedral.  Jesus has in mind another building.  St. Paul called it the temple not built with hands…God’s presence dwelling in us…our lives given over to the possibility of God.


What about you?   Happy with being pretty good?  How much of pretty is good enough?  Have you been vaccinated against Jesus so you can’t catch the real thing? But instead will settle for something less?


Or—are you ready for a revolution in your life given by the savior of the world who himself is the real question to be reckoned with?  And the world’s one and only possibility thinker?   If you’re ready for that—then come follow him.


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