The rich young ruler in this verse was driven by a passion to be perfect. When he saw the personal holiness of Jesus Christ, the ruler wanted to be like him. But personal holiness is never what our Lord puts first when he calls a disciple. What he puts first is the absolute annihilation of my right to myself in favor of my identification with him. Jesus Christ wants me to be in a relationship with him in which there is no other relationship. That is why he says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother . . . such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Discipleship has nothing to do with perfection, nothing to do with salvation and sanctification. It has everything to do with unconditional identification with Jesus Christ. This is what our Lord was expressing when he told the ruler to go and sell everything. Very few of us understand this absolute “go” of abandonment.

“Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21). To receive the look of Jesus is to have a heart broken forever from allegiance to anyone or anything else. Has Jesus ever looked at you? His look transforms and transfixes. Where I am soft with God is where the Lord has looked at me. If instead I am hard and vindictive, insistent on my own way, certain that the other person is in the wrong, it’s a sign that whole regions of my nature have never been transformed by his gaze.

“One thing you lack . . .” The only good thing, from Jesus Christ’s point of view, is union with himself, and nothing in between.

“Sell everything you have.” I must reduce myself until I’m a mere conscious being. I must renounce possessions of all kinds. I do this not to save my soul (only one thing saves me: absolute reliance on Jesus Christ), but to follow my Lord.

“Come, follow me.”

Wisdom from Oswald

We must keep ourselves in touch, not with theories, but with people, and never get out of touch with human beings, if we are going to use the word of God skilfully amongst them.  Workmen of God, 1341 L