I am from a privileged family. I have always known security, received a sound, quality education and a good religious upbringing. I have been taught to be morally upright, to do the right thing, to follow the teachings of the scriptures and the Pharisees. I have followed the commandments to the letter and the instructions of the Teachers and the Rabbis at the synagogue. I have learned well, so that now I am one of the youngest leaders, joining those of senior years, who are teaching others in the ways of God. I have conformed to the rules, maintained high standards of behaviour and earned the respect of all in the community. I am set for high things, but I am not at peace. Why do I feel so dissatisfied? There is a discontent in my soul, a void that I cannot fill and for all my superior moral behaviour and high standards there is something lacking. I have learned and followed the Pharisaic rules from early childhood. I am a conformer of the first order so why do I feel so empty?
I heard of this young, untrained itinerant Teacher whom many are following and was eager to find out the secret to His ministry, success and following. I sought Him out in good faith, coming before Him respectfully, open minded, with a genuine need to learn, being aware of the void in my life. I needed to ask Him- what particular thing do I need to do in order to have eternal life? I have followed all of the rules and commandments and so what one, good thing do I need to do now? Have I done enough for a reward in heaven? Is there a guarantee of my place in the eternal? I will do whatever is required.
His answer was straightforward and shocking. I was to sell all I had and follow Him. He had discerned that my strongest, my hearts attachment, was to my wealth, status, position, and privilege. He was asking me to relinquish the control of my life to Him and to simply follow. He had read my heart. I now saw that eternal life is not by ’doing’ but by ‘being’.
I was cut to the core. His words had penetrated deep and caused immense conflict. To say that I was troubled was an understatement. This was too much to ask. How could it be that my high moral life would count for nothing in the new kingdom? My heart was heavy and with great sorrow I quietly turned away from Him, returning to the privilege of my wealth and the security of all that was familiar.
This rich young ruler had hit a roadblock, a crossroads and he could go no further until he had relinquished the control of his life to the One who was calling him to follow. There was a hindrance, an obstacle that prevented him from moving forwards. He had stalled and could not move forward to his desired path of knowing his place in the kingdom of God. So, he was immobilized, stifled, and frustrated. A breakthrough would not come easily now.
There is one significant and perhaps life changing sentence in this account of the rich young ruler.
And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him……..Mark 10 v 21
Perhaps if he had continued in conversation with Jesus, he may have begun to see things from a new perspective. He may have realized that he could not begin do this by himself and that Jesus would not ask Him to do it on his own. When the disciples asked Jesus to explain the challenge of riches to them, Jesus gave a simple, clarification- trust God to help you.
25 The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?” 26 Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” The Message
We may each face some turning point, a blockage on our journey of faith, something that we are holding onto, or some unexpected challenge. He does not expect us to do this on our own. His grace and power to change us, is sufficient. We can’t pull it off by ourselves. We need to keep reminding ourselves of this.