Mark 10:21. Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
I grew up in a Bible-reading, church-going, God-fearing family. Heaven was where I was headed, and I understood the path to follow Jesus was straight, narrow and required a lifetime of sacrifice. The story of “Jesus and the Rich Man” was told to me over and over in Sunday School and sermons. I hoped and prayed that I would not grow up to be a camel that couldn’t get through the eye of the needle. At the same time, the easy answers I heard did not match up with my God-given curiosity or with the mysterious God the Bible reflects. As I grew, studied, traveled, asked questions, suffered great losses and great joys, sought out wise teachers, and explored spiritual practices, my focus shifted. The reward of eternal glory faded and was replaced by the transforming love of God in each moment. Today, when I read the story of Jesus and the rich young man in Mark’s gospel I saw something I had never noticed: “Jesus, looking at him, loved him…” THIS is the Lord I’ve come to know. The one who sees me and loves me before anything else. Yes, I can experience the transformation of sacrifice, but first I accept that I am known and loved. The final verse of the hymn “Just as I Am” by William Bradbury comes to mind:
Just as I am, thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down
Now, to be thine, yea, thine alone
O Lamb of God, I come, I come
Holy One. Your love transforms me. Amen.
—Sunni Grace Bannon