To be a Christian means to surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Dear Rev. Graham: What’s the point of the story of the rich young ruler? He acknowledged Jesus and was simply asking a question that Jesus didn’t really answer. It bothers me to hear that in order for him to have eternal life Jesus demanded he give up his wealth. Isn’t salvation a free gift from God? – R.R.


Dear R.R.: Giving up something to follow Christ is not earning salvation; it’s giving up what keeps us from salvation. When we hold on to something that is dearer to us than receiving the greater gift of salvation in Christ, we lose. This is the point of the story Jesus told.

The story of the rich young ruler cuts to the heart of what it means to belong to the world — or to the world people try to personally design. Belonging to the world means to do whatever it takes to be part of it, to relate to it at every level — to be joined to its philosophy and purpose. To be a Christian means to surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ, to give up whatever prevents us from receiving Christ as Savior. This cannot be done in our own power. But we must desire to be changed.

This would-be believer walked away from Jesus because he didn’t want his desires changed. He had convinced himself that he was good, but his encounter with Jesus showed him otherwise. His designer world crumbled when he could not obtain salvation because of his refusal to give up his hold on the world. The very thing he already had — great wealth — was what kept him from accepting the very thing he requested — the treasure of Heaven, eternal life. When Christ comes into a life, He gives the power to turn from sinful ways and walk a different path — His path of right living — because He changes our desires.

(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)