Due to an error, the devotional for week 43 did not send to the reading list as scheduled. We apologize for the inconvenience. Week 44 will be sent in a separate email this week as scheduled.
Your Best Life
"Live your best life" is a phrase made popular in the last year or so, a catch-all empowerment call for everyone to follow their passions and shrug off others' expectations. The beauty of this phrase is that it is not limited to one interpretation. For some, the "best life" means following a path different from their families' expectations, and for others, it simply means learning to be comfortable in the quirky skin they've been given.
In the readings for this week, we find the rich young ruler asking Jesus his society's version of the best life:
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Notice the verb choice the young ruler uses-inherit. He's not asking Jesus what work he himself must do, but what boxes must be checked off for him to be included in God's Final Will & Testament. "What must I do," the ruler asks, "so that I can be sure I'm getting a share of what God has already done?" To some degree, the man's question should be applauded because he realizes that God has already done the work of eternal life and He wants the young man to be included in the benefits of eternal life.
Jesus responds by telling the young ruler to follow the commandments, especially those that talk about how to interact with others. When the man assures Jesus that he has been following those exact commandments -- when he pushes Jesus about why he's not feeling like he's named in the Great Will -- Jesus tells him to sell his possessions and give to the poor. The last we "see" of this ruler is his back as he walks away with slouched shoulders from Jesus and his disciples. We never find out if he did indeed follow through on Jesus' command.
The man's question was about eternal life, not life on earth. Yet Jesus answered him in a way that included the man's present life -- his very non-eternal life. The "best life" for the young man included the excess of wealth, the comfort of more-than-enough. The eternal life remained out of his grasp because how could eternal life be of less comfortable than his present life?
Tucked away in these passages is a scene of tithing: With his disciples, Jesus watches as many rich people give hefty sums to the temple treasury and then as a widow -- one who by the laws of that time's society was reliant upon her male relatives' good will to keep her clothed and fed -- gives a mere two coins. Jesus says the widow's small donation is more valuable than the others' large offerings.
This upside-down thinking -- that a gift of lesser monetary value is more important than one with lots of zeros and commas in it -- is typical of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is because God's Kingdom is not like the one we live in now, where the "best life" is about having have access to the best healthcare, school systems, and nutritious food. We equate "best" with monetary wealth, comfort, good living conditions, and power.
In the Kingdom of God, however, the ones who live the best lives are comfortable in God's love. They are the ones that live their lives for others. They are the ones who follow God's call to serve others in unique and imaginative ways. They are the ones that merge the ways of eternal life into their present lives, inevitably spilling over into their neighbors' lives. They are the ones that know that living their "best life" is living the Kingdom life -- a life that doesn't have to wait for eternity.
~ Brittany Kooi
October 21st Readings LUKE 18:9-14
October 22nd Readings MATTHEW 20:1-16
October 23rd Readings MARK 14:3-9
October 24th Readings JOHN 12:37-50
October 25th Readings MATTHEW 21:28-32
October 26th Readings MARK 12:28-34
October 27th Readings MARK 13:1-23