Monday, June 25, 2012

Inheritance -- You Have a Choice

Bear with me, you know how my ADHD can show up at the most inopportune times. Today during part of the sermon, our pastor spoke about the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler asked what must he do to inherit eternal life, and for whatever reason, my mind grabbed onto the word inheritance and wouldn’t let go. It may be because Patrick is working through his mother’s estate, but I immediately connected the word inheritance with death. Someone has to die in order for another party to receive an inheritance. In Patrick’s case, his mother passed away. Otherwise, he would have no inheritance. Inheritance is not something he or my children worked for. It was given to them because of a relationship.

It makes me wonder about the rich young ruler. Had everything been given to him? Is that why he was wealthy? He asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He saw strings attached. What do I have to do to live forever? Where’s the checklist? For Patrick, he was Gynelle’s son. It was by birth that he received his connection to the inheritance. Did he have to be a good son? Was he always perfect? No. The fact is she loved Patrick. She wanted to make sure that Patrick received part of her estate when she died, so she had a will written providing for his inheritance.

Also, the one who bequeaths the inheritance chooses who will receive and how they will receive it. Just because someone has two children doesn’t mean they will both inherit equally. What if one is estranged or deceased? Some have been known to leave nothing to their family and bequeath their estate to a charity. Some have left their estates to their pets! The one who bequeaths the inheritance has the power to choose who will receive it and under what terms and conditions.

Then I looked up the definition of inheritance, and I was reminded that we can inherit traits, characteristics and qualities from others. This still requires a relationship of some sort. My children have inherited their genetic traits from their birth parents. Pearce’s beautiful skin is not something he could have inherited from me or his critically Caucasian daddy. Erin’s curly hair and her hands are traits she received from her birth mom. I just wish I had fingernails like hers. While my children don’t have a daily relationship with their birth parents, they still have a genetic connection, a genetic relationship. Do they inherit anything from Patrick and me as their adoptive parents? Absolutely. Have you ever heard of Nature vs. Nurture? Erin is like her daddy, and Pearce is the answer to my mother’s prayers – Please God, give her one just like her!

So, regardless of how you look at it inheritance requires a relationship or connection. There is also an inequality in the relationship. There is one who has the power to give, the one who has the authority to bestow the inheritance. Then there is the other who has the choice of whether or not to receive. Just because someone bequeaths something to you in their will does not mean you have to take it. If you are that desperate for the need of power and control, if you are that angry and hurt, you can choose to reject the inheritance. There may be conditions and terms that must be met before receiving the inheritance. I can’t imagine that many people would turn down an inheritance, but there are some who will and some who do. There may be stipulations in some inheritance…strings attached. Some may have to process through their inheritance to evaluate what must be done. While others expect their inheritance to be handed over to them, while they do little if anything to attain it.

The rich young ruler wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life. The sole purpose of his question showed he was only interested in wanting to live forever. I wonder if he had a fear of death, and that is why he focused on the eternal life aspect. I wonder if he sought immortality like people today seek popularity and notoriety because they want the fame. Regardless of his reasoning, the young ruler wanted eternal life.

In Mark 18, the young ruler said he had kept the commandments since he was a boy. He had crossed his t’s and dotted his I’s, but he knew there was something more.

Jesus told him to give up his lifestyle and follow him. When the young ruler could do that, Jesus could bequeath him the inheritance the rich young ruler sought. The rich young ruler would have to give up his circle of friends, his wealth, his toys, his holdings, his tangible things that could burn in a fire or be stolen in order to receive the inheritance he said he wanted.

I wonder what are you willing to relinquish to follow Christ? I’m ready for a simple way of life. I don’t need to keep up with the Joneses or the Thibodeaux. (Remember, I’m from Louisiana.) If I’m trying to keep up with the Joneses or the Thibodeaux then I’m not keeping up with Jesus.

From what source do you want to receive your inheritance? From what source do you want to receive your traits? What relationship would you prefer to have more – one with a God who can offer eternal life or one with the world in which you will never be enough, will never have enough? Jesus wants to bequeath to you eternal life. He wants to give it to you in exchange for your old life. Will you receive it, or will you walk away?

Inheritance…you have a choice.

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