This was exactly what he wanted. He knew there had to be more. Never in his life had he dreamed that this could be so real and so powerful. He had lived his life in the fear of God ever since he could remember. He had been trained in the Word and had developed a high standard of discipline since his youth. But he was always left with this feeling that God was somewhere afar off and it was hard for him to build a relationship with Him. Sometimes when he would sing or pray, it seemed that his spirit soared only to find himself back at the starting point the next time.
But this Jesus was different. Even his face reflected the relationship that he had with God. He talked as if you could literally know God, “really” know God as a father and son relationship and even talk to him. And although it sounded far-fetched and impossible to be true, there was something about the way that Jesus talked. He talked as one having authority, someone who “really knew” what he was talking about. Even the things that Jesus did showed that he had something that no one else seemed to have, not even the leaders in the synagogue.
Every day the fame of Jesus grew in the city and surrounding villages. Rumors, which were really not rumors but actually testimonies of witnesses that had seen and experienced healings, spread through out the neighborhoods and people were busy telling stories of what they had heard and seen. His days became focused on Jesus’ schedule and he found himself leaving his responsibilities with much more frequency and searching out Jesus. Where was he going to be? What would he do? How could he get an interview with him? So many questions he wanted to ask and this long yearning for more of God kept driving him toward Jesus. “This is what I want. I want to be able to live the reality of a face like that,” he meditated. “I won´t settle for anything less. I want to know God like Jesus knows him. I want to “live God”. I want to see the mighty things that I have read about from the past. I want more.”
This passion consumed him and after several failed attempts of being able to be close to Jesus, he finally found the opportunity to be face to face with Him. With mixed emotions he faltered to ask him, “Good teacher, what must I do to live the kingdom like you do?” Even as he asked, the desire for more seemed to be overshadowed by his embarrassment of such a question. He was well known in the community and was pretty much recognized as a leader. His rich friends would never approve of his spiritual interest; after all, he already knew most of what he needed to know, why he was even teaching others. Anxiety overwhelmed him. All of the sudden he was very much aware of something within him that caused him to feel nervous.
“Why do you call me good? there is no one good except God,” Jesus responded looking him straight in the eyes. He felt uneasy at the penetrating look. It seemed as if Jesus looked straight through his eyes and right down into the deepest depths of his heart but he couldn’t ignore the overwhelming love that he perceived through that challenging look. Before he could think of what to say, Jesus said, “you know the Word…”, and continued citing the commandments that he knew as a child. Although hope sparked in his heart that he was on the right track and wouldn´t need much to experience what Jesus reflected, he somehow knew that there was something stirring within him that was keeping him from the relationship with God that he so desired. He quickly replied, “I have kept all these from my youth”, glad that he had always been diligent in being meticulous in his obedience. Even when his friends mocked him in his early years of discipleship, his commitment paid off and he had been one of the most renowned students of his class. “What else must I do to live a relationship with God like you do?” He quickly added, knowing that keeping the commandments was not the only key to Jesus’ relationship to God. Jesus was blessing some children that had spontaneously came and given him a hug. He couldn’t help but notice the loving smile. “How can you be so loving and yet carry such an authority that unnerves all of us around you?” he thought feeling that he had gotten himself into more than he bargained for.
Jesus turned toward him and with a look of profound love said, “If you want to be fully developed and perfect, go sell everything you have, give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” The words pierced his heart…so close and yet so far away. Treasure in heaven…”what is that?” A voice inside pleaded with him saying, “that’s what you are looking for, treasure in heaven. That’s it! That will change your relationship with God and change your life for ever!” But at the same time there was a deep ache down within, he knew he couldn’t do that, or was it that he “wouldn’t “ do that. “I can`t go sell everything I have. It´s my families’ inheritance. Surely God wouldn’t want me to be negligent with the legacy of my family. But what does he mean go sell everything? And then what? Go follow someone I hardly know? And how do I know that he has my best interest? I have been trained by some of the best…” The thoughts flooded his mind producing both anger and sadness. Something within him said, “If you can live like he does, it’s worth it. Do it!” But he slowly lowered his head, turned and walked away. He was too disheartened and embarrassed to look back. What he so longed for had a price tag that he was not willing to pay even though it meant having treasure in heaven and living the life of God here on earth.
Many times there are things that are keeping us from living the goodness of the Father. When we consider the goodness of the Father we think of it in terms of something that the Father owns and he allows us to enjoy it. It’s kind of like it is part of our inheritance. But living the goodness of the Father comes first of all from a relationship with the Father. His goodness is who He is. He is good. So when we think of goodness in terms of blessings or manifestations, we are short-circuiting the life cycle, trying to enjoy something without knowing Him from where true goodness flows. The goodness of the Father is not defined by what happens to us on the outside or the material things that we can enjoy. The goodness of the Father is defined by WHO he is, his essence, his love, his attributes and his good plan for our lives. So when I “know” the Father, I can live the goodness of the Father.
The rich young ruler did not want to “give up” in order to gain. He wanted to continue on with his already “put together life” and simply add the benefit of inheriting life, God’s style. He initially asked, “what must I do…” but when the “doing” interrupted his life, he went away sad. When our lives are full of “our life” there is no more room for “God’s life” in us and God’s life and a relationship with him is the only thing that can truly bring us into living the goodness of the Father.
Not everything that we need to give up is bad. Sometimes it is something that is out of balance and it is robbing us of God’s priorities. Sometimes it is a question of obedience. “Do you “really” want what I have for you? Are you willing to…?” As we have seen before, living the goodness of the Father is directly related to our perspective of our relationship with Him. Can you really trust God to the point that you rest in love for you and know that He will only ask you for those things that are keeping you from best?
I am amazed that Jesus told this young man that he only lacked “one thing”. I love those “one thing’s” of the Father. They are the “one thing” that keeps us from going on to experience the life that God has planned for us. He doesn’t give us a long list of things that we must change even though eventually we may need to change them. He deals with the “one thing” that has us stationary in our upward walk with God. It is shocking how many Christians have a horizontal walk with God. They go from one thing to another, busy with activity, coming and going but never ascending to higher levels in relationship and maturity. That is because in order to ascend, you must cast off. Every mountain climber knows the importance of making the trip lighter as they ascend, it can be a matter of life and death. And so it is with us as children of God. To live the goodness of the Father we must “know Him” and that requires casting off things in our lives that keep us from deepening our relationship with him and going higher with Him. It means establishing priorities, being obedient and above all else, desiring Him above anything else in this life.
Living the goodness of Father will depend upon our willingness to follow Him into a relationship that requires “losing ourselves” in order to find our “true selves” in Christ. Living the goodness of the Father is living free from the entanglements of this life and living for the treasures in heaven. The Father is faithful to guide us into that deeper relationship with him. It is us who must be willing to obey and pay the price of such a relationship.