Mark 10: 21b“One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
“The Types of Sacrifices Athletes Make”[i]. The title gets the attention of most student athletes. In fact, if you’re a Student Athlete, you could probably write it yourself and your findings would be echoed by many others in the same position. The Houston Chronicle online article (www.Chron.com) quotes a 2011 National Collegiate Athletic Association Survey which found that “student athletes train between 25 and 45 hours per week”. Obviously, that is significant time that could be spent elsewhere, such as with friends, doing school work, watching movies or just sleeping. The article highlights three sacrifices: 1) Loss of Physical Well-Being (exhaustion and injuries); 2) Social Sacrifices (foregoing many parties and unhealthy drinking and eating); and 3) Financial Sacrifices (cost of training, equipment, or the inability to have a part-time job).
So why do Student Athletes make such substantial sacrifices? Most do it for a reward. The reward might be a college scholarship, fame, a professional contract, financial reward, or just the happiness they feel when they bond with a team, when they train, or when they reach their athletic goals. Whatever the case, Student Athletes sacrifice something of value, to gain something that they consider of greater value.
I have always been intrigued by today’s scripture Mark 10:17-31, often simply entitled “The Rich Man”. Jesus was walking and a man ran up to him and asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 17b). Interestingly, Jesus points back to the commandments and lists a few such as: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother. (v. 19b). The young man responds saying he has done all these things since he was a boy. The part of this passage that is intriguing, is Jesus’ response. Typically, when people such as the Scribes or Pharisees would respond in such a way, Jesus would not mince words, calling them “hypocrites” (Luke 11:44), “serpents” or “vipers” (Matthew 23:33). But in this passage, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” (Mark 10:21a). There was clearly something very special about this young man. He was leading a righteous life and clearly a life that was honoring to God, and Jesus loved this. But….
I heard someone once say that “God has no issue going after what is sacred to us to achieve what is sacred to Him”. Jesus had, and has, the uncanny (and supernatural) ability to go after our weak spot. The young man was holding onto something with a closed hand. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. (vs. 21-22)
What is it for you? It is easy to say, “Lord I want to be your disciple; use me to further your kingdom.” But then we have conditions. I’m going to be a professional athlete. I’m going to get a stable job with a good salary. I’m going to be married and have kids by the time I’m 25. While none of those things are sinful in themselves, and in fact they can be very good, if you are clinging to them, giving no opportunity for Jesus to have a say, then you cannot truly be a disciple (Matthew 16:24-26). Hold everything you have with an open hand giving God the opportunity to take what is sacred to you, to achieve what is sacred to Him.