A Pathway Named Desire
As Jesus continued down the road, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” – Mark 10:17 (CEB)
If you want to know Jesus’ response to this seeker’s query, I encourage you to pull out your Bible and read the rest of this challenging passage. I remain stuck on what feels to me like a misguided question:
What must I do to enter the realm of God?
The conversation that follows reveals the man to be the earnest sort: a rule follower and probably a people pleaser. Was there something else he needed to do, one more thing he could check off his list to finally experience the approval, self-worth, and peace he longed for?
In all of that, he was not so different from us. In all of that, I am not so different from him.
Which is why I take great comfort in verse 21: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
Because there is nothing we have to do to enter the realm of God, nothing we could do to earn life abundant; all of it is gift. Jesus’ words about the importance of giving up what separates us from God’s realm of love and justice are an invitation to liberation, not obligation or qualification.
But the rich young ruler couldn’t understand that, and so he turned away, bereft.
And still God loved him. And it was that steadfast, loving gaze—not anything he did—that transformed him and, over time, gave him more life than he had ever imagined.
May I trust that my every desire to please you pleases you, and that your every desire is for the healing and wholeness of us all.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.