I have high hopes for that rich, young, reli­gious ruler. I hope that one day we can have a chat and I can ask a few ques­tions. I won­der how he will respond. Here’s how I hope our con­ver­sa­tion will go:

Can I ask you what you were think­ing that day? What were you hop­ing to receive from Jesus? Did his ques­tion about why you called him good’ catch you off guard? Was there a point in the con­ver­sa­tion where your hopes were raised, only to be sud­den­ly dashed? Why did you walk away? Was it the­o­log­i­cal con­fu­sion? Con­fu­sion con­cern­ing Israel’s covenant with God and signs of enter­ing the bless­ings the covenant offered? Or, when Jesus asked you to give away all you pos­sessed, were you just plain scared? Scared that he would ask so much of you when you were just get­ting acquaint­ed? Were you angry at Jesus? Angry that he would ask you to give away all you pos­sessed, while he seemed per­fect­ly hap­py to allow oth­er peo­ple to keep their pos­ses­sions? Some peo­ple I’ve talked to – schol­ars includ­ed — seem to think that Jesus was tough on you because you thought you were earn­ing some­thing from him – and from God – through your obe­di­ence to the Law. I’m not con­vinced. But it does seem like you were strug­gling to give up things that were pre­cious to you, things that gave you sta­tus in your soci­ety, things that made your life com­fort­able and secure. Am I right? Did you ever change? Did you ever give away your pos­ses­sions? And if you did, what did you receive in return? Did you ever come back to Jesus and say, I’m sor­ry. I was scared. I was offend­ed. I want to learn from you. I want to change. I need your help. Teach me how to live.’? I know these are per­son­al ques­tions. I guess I think that in the age to come, in the king­dom you were so eager to enter, we’ll feel com­fort­able enough, and secure enough, to share such pri­vate things.”

My thoughts drift back to Bon­ho­ef­fer. If I could sum up his thought in one phrase, it would prob­a­bly be some­thing like this: The call to dis­ci­ple­ship is the call to change.” Jesus is always call­ing peo­ple to change. And change is very dif­fi­cult. Clear­ly, Jesus was ask­ing the rich young ruler to change as Jesus invit­ed him to become his dis­ci­ple; the pat­tern of appren­tice­ship to Jesus remains the same for us today. In the young man’s case, his pos­ses­sions seemed to be the prin­ci­pal road­block to change. He couldn’t let them go. The very things he thought were bring­ing him life were stran­gling him. 

What’s stran­gling me?” I ask myself. The rich, young man thought things were fine and they were awful. Where am I equal­ly blind, equal­ly self-deceived? Where am I lying about the true state of affairs in my life? Where does Jesus’ spot­light need to shine in me, expos­ing things I need to take a look at but would rather ignore? Why am I afraid to allow God to flick his divine flash light on to illu­mi­nate my heart? Why am I hid­ing? Why am I hun­ker­ing down?

You can catch up with all of Chris’s posts at Con­ver­sa­tions with Chris.”

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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