Surfing the internet I have been powerfully impacted. Not by the internet or its informational overload but by the appeals to human insecurity. The number of carefully crafted websites selling me skills that will somehow both enhance my self esteem and my financial opportunities are endless. Oh! I can also sign up for regular email encouragements and ‘inner secrets’.
Now I am not against marketing and actually accompany individuals on their journey of spiritual realisation as well as coach women and men in delivering more competently, comfortably and effectively. I present myself as a Whole Life Therapist, for that is who I am. I am also a Friar of the Franciscan brand.
The Power of One
Yet we must remember that every individual deserves to be enabled to know themselves and live from within, otherwise they become dependent upon others, can only deliver ‘models’ that offer hope but are in fact no more than mere plastic imitations of anything real, and generally feed the false self that is nourished within each one of us from birth.
When the rich young ruler approached Jesus and greeted him as, ‘Good teacher’, he was no doubt following the formula taught him at a recent ‘Maximising your Personal Impact’ seminar. Call the Master ‘Good’ and so appeal to his ego in such a way that he will instinctively be drawn to you. This, the rich young ruler has been taught, will ‘add value’ to the relational space he might fill within Jesus’ missional responsibility. Obviously Jesus needs his wealth because what can be achieved without money? Therefore he needs to secure a relational in and manufacture a business win!
Who Am I?
Of course Jesus having wrestled the false ego most successfully in the wilderness when assaulted three times by the Enemy, is comfortable in who he is and free from desires for personal wealth accumulation, personal power or public position. He knows it is enough to simply do what Dad tells him!
So Jesus responds with a question. ‘Why do you call me good? No-one is good but God alone’. An unusual response but an accurate recognition that the human heart is perpetually deceived and deceiving, hence it is difficult to establish integrity - a question that I wrestled with as I visited site after site offering to enhance my personal appeal, add value to my offer and ultimately enhance my business and personal bank account.
Sadly for the rich young ruler, Jesus was not in the business of managing and promoting www.Jesus.com. He was not promoting himself, a series of life changing products and his own carefully branded and niche heavenly services. No! He was doing something most unfashionable today; he was speaking the Truth!
Achieving Personal Security
This the rich young ruler learnt at the cost of his own eternal security. He may well have had sufficient income, investments and bonuses to secure a comfortable conclusion to his mortal life on earth. Sadly, however, he had no stake beyond the grave as he had failed to appreciate how he might invest in that future dimension of his life and had nothing set aside against immortality.
Jesus was unimpressed with the rich young ruler’s religiosity - ‘But I am a benedictine Oblate, I attend Retreats, I have been on a pilgrimage to Assisi, I engage daily with centring prayer, I am kind to people and animals’.
Jesus responds, “Go, get rid of all that junk that is your current life, the wealth you have generated and this dangerous ego reinforcement strategy, and then Follow Me”.
All too much for the rich young ruler who left sorrowful - but probably a sort of sorrowful that was all about him - his self pity - and not a lot about the failure to be able to respond to Jesus’ challenge.
Faith, Trust & Friendship
This challenge of Jesus is an appeal to faith and trust - in as far as we trust Jesus we will live at ease and at peace within the world. We may not have a lot to show financially yet we will offer a tremendous amount emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. For the majority of people who attend any or all of these sparkling seminars, life changes very little. However, their bank accounts are seriously emptied. It is faith filled people they need to find to truly turn their lives around.
Friendship is not a commodity it is a gift; one which each of us has. Friendship is not for personal advancement but for mutual encouragement. There is in fact a dearth of friendship today - in part because we are all captivated by the race for financial security.
The Way Ahead
Instead of looking outside ourselves for our success, it lies in fact within us. It is a seed - the Godseed - planted by the Divine hand at conception. Our task is to follow Jesus and travel beyond the false self to discover the true self and live out of that reality. Then we will enjoy peace and self confidence and an ability to contribute. The search for self realisation will end as we discover who we were always created to be and walk ever deeper into Christlikeness. This is the true richness Jesus offers to each and everyone of us.