And that is the right question. If it is a calling to walk with Christ, I cannot do it alone. Can I handle the fact that following Christ means I actually need him? I will not be alone. When we have realized that following Christ means being led by Christ, we will find the courage to step out on the path in front of us.
Blessed are the poor in spirit
Many of us are faced with our own version of the challenge Christ posed to the rich man in Luke’s Gospel (18:18–27). Jesus met a ruler, a leader, who was clearly living the spiritual life. How do we know he was not a spiritual amateur? In their interaction, the rich man asks Jesus how to find eternal life. Jesus tells him to follow the commandments. The man responds, “All of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus adds, then do one more thing: give up your wealth. Give everything that is holding you back so you can follow me. Sell all of your possessions in order to be free.
The narrator tells us the man “became quite sad, for he was very rich.” Jesus closes the scene with a hard saying about following him: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” The rich man felt sad because he had grown attached to some of his possessions, his earthly comforts.
This fellow is not alone in his sadness, in this disillusionment. “Those who heard it said, ‘Then who can be saved?’?” It is not easy to give up what keeps us comfortable. Yet Jesus asks that we keep our hearts focused on our love for God, which will be fully realized in the world to come. The next words of Christ may surprise us: “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.” This saying is hopeful, for it acknowledges that God acts to accomplish his will in us.