Christian Living,  Culture,  Misc

The Parable of the Rich Young Influencer

I was recently made aware of a forgotten text that has recently been discovered. It turns out that Jesus did indeed speak to contemporary issues about social media. It has been called the Parable of the Rich Young Influencer. Here is the text in full:

picture of the rich young influencer

And behold, a Gen Z young man came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The Gen Z young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, delete your social media accounts and give up your desire for fame, and you will be known in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the Gen Z young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had many followers.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will someone with many followers enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an influencer to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Although this is a satirical post, I hope the point is obvious. Sometimes we rationalize new and inventive ways to keep us from submitting to Christ. In the original story of the Rich Young Man, it is wealth which keeps him from following Christ: “He went away because he had many possessions.”

To be sure, wealth continues to be a hindrance to people in following Christ. But one thing we have seen more and more in recent years is the draw of popularity on social media. One disastrous outcome of people on social media is that when they desire to come to Christ, they often try to keep their followers and maintain their status as an influencer. That is not always wrong, but I can’t help but wonder if many a shipwreck could have been avoided if new believers would simply forsake being in the public eye and focus on growing in their relationship with Christ under the discipleship of godly leaders.

Perhaps as we give the gospel and ask people to come to Christ, we will have to take a page of of Jesus’s book. We will ask would-be followers if they would be willing to give up their social media accounts. Something to think about!  

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs The Bible Sojourner podcast and Youtube channel.

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