I Am Weak, but God is Strong

August 25th, 2008 • Category: Gospel of Luke
by Tyler Connoley

Today’s Scripture: Luke 18:18-27 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Tyler Connoley):

At the beginning of this passage, Jesus and the young ruler have an exchange that seems incidental to the story, but I believe it’s the key to understanding what’s really going on. The young man calls Jesus a good teacher, and Jesus responds, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

The young ruler is someone who wants to believe he’s good, but there’s still something in his life that’s standing between him and God. He can sense the loneliness in his heart, but he can’t put his finger on the source. So he goes to Jesus, and Jesus cuts through all the masks to reveal this man’s core problem. His soul sickness is his addiction to wealth. If he can give that up, then he can have an authentic relationship with God and with other people. Unfortunately, the man can’t give up his money, and he goes away sad.

If that were the end of the story, we might say the lesson is about wealth. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” But that’s not the end.

The disciples, seeing this exchange, realize instinctively that it’s not about wealth. Even though they themselves are homeless and poor and couldn’t possibly have wealth addictions, they respond, “Then who can be saved?” They realize that it’s about the young ruler’s idol — that thing he worships above God, the one thing in his life that he can’t give up. And, since no one is good but God, they also realize that they all have their own idols.

Jesus responds with the good news: “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.” Those things that hold sway over us are not a barrier for God! We see in our lives the addictions and idols that make it impossible for us to have authentic relationships, but God has the power to save us from those things.

Thought for the day: In Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is to accept one’s own powerlessness over alcohol, and then give it over to God. What makes you feel powerless? Give that to God.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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