By Ali Denney
How often do we live our lives just wanting to do the bare minimum? We want the increased salary of that promotion or the healthy body of the nutritionist at the gym, but we don’t want to completely upend our daily schedule to get it. We want to reap all the benefits without concerted effort.
The Bare Minimum
No different is the man who tried to corner Jesus with this question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words, what is the bare minimum I have to accomplish to get the best you have to offer?
Jesus, knowing the man’s motives and dodging the trap he set, encouraged the man to answer the question himself. The man does with the Great Commandment (Luke 10:27). Correct! I get the feeling this expert in the law was thinking that surely he was going to wiggle through the conversation freely and not have to adjust his already comfortable life to fulfill the law of Jesus.
But just to be sure, he threw out one last attempt at a passing grade. “And who is my neighbor?” (v. 29). Here is where Jesus gets the chance to turn this guy inside out. The parable pointed directly to the man’s unwillingness to give his all to follow Jesus. Jesus knew that as he moved through his story from one character to the next, the expert in the law was getting nervous. I imagine his face reddened, his palms sweat, he fidgeted. The Samaritan went above and beyond to help a needy man. Any person, especially a man of wit and intelligence like an expert in the law, would agree. Jesus was inviting him to go all in.
We know how the story ends. The man answered correctly again, but this time, quite possibly, with an averted gaze and gritted teeth.
I can’t say much more for myself at times. Life as a disciple of Christ is accepting Jesus’ invitation. It isn’t just running through the sprinkler on a hot day. It is a fully-clothed, head-first dive into the deep end. Jesus does not want us just to dip our feet. He wants us to take the plunge. Grab his hand and launch yourself into the deep.
Ali Denney is a documentary photographer and blogger in San Diego who travels the world with her camera. She has an insightful husband and two wildly amazing children.