Jesus told the rich young ruler, “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).
Jesus said to Martha, “Few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
For the young ruler, the one thing was what he would gain by losing his possessions. For Martha, her sister had found the one thing and she was left holding the oven mitt.
But I think, at the root, these two very different people lacked the same one thing.
Jesus still calls people to that one thing.
Jesus still calls people
to that one thing.
It used to drive me crazy: this one thing Mary had but Martha didn’t. It felt like Martha was missing out just because of who she was and her personality. And this young ruler, how could poverty be the thing he was missing? Jesus never told anyone else to sell everything they owned.
I was looking at the symptoms rather than the root cause.
Through long study and time (okay honestly, it was years) in the Word, I’ve come to realize Jesus’ one thing isn’t about our actions, personalities, or our bank accounts. It isn’t really about the young ruler’s act of selling everything. It isn’t about Martha’s personality or her tendency to do more work than everyone else.
Oswald Chambers said it best.
“From Jesus Christ’s perspective, oneness with Him, with nothing between is the only good thing.” -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, September 28.
Jesus’ one thing is oneness.
It’s been that way since God established His people:
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One. –Deuteronomy 6:4
We shouldn’t be surprised when
Jesus calls us to relationship.
Our fundamental understanding of God still involves this kind of oneness: the Three-in-One. He is constantly in unhindered relationship with the Persons of the Trinity. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when Jesus calls us to something similar…to pure relationship…to be part of that pre-existent Oneness (though it will never be on the same scale because we’re not God). That is, after all, what Jesus prayed just before His crucifixion.
My prayer is not for [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. –John 17:20-21
You in me.
I in You.
They in us.
Jesus goal is the same
in every case: oneness.
Oneness, relationship, unbroken communion with Him. That’s why nothing else can get in the way. If, like the rich young ruler, our obstacle is wealth/possessions, He’ll tell us to give it away. If, like Martha, our obstacle is good works, busyness, or reputation, He’ll tell us to sit down at His feet. It won’t be the same for everybody, but Jesus’ goal is the same in every case: oneness.
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind or in the swirling controversies on social media. It’s easy to let some seemingly innocent thing put an obstacle between us and Jesus. But He still calls us to oneness.
What’s your one thing? If you went up to Jesus like this young man or Martha, what would Jesus say you need to set aside in order to achieve oneness with Him? I’ve laid aside many things over the years, and still, Jesus says, “One more thing.”
What was the “one thing” Jesus thought missing from the lives around him? It’s the same thing He still seeks for us. My #onething is #NotAboutMe, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)
It’s easy to stay at a “treat the symptoms” level in our spiritual lives and not dig down to the root cause, where we find lasting change. How do you improve your oneness with Jesus? What has He asked you to let go of? Got any good suggestions to help the rest of us? Please share in the comments below!
- Find more on this guy we call the “rich young ruler” in One Man’s Treasure.
- For more on Martha’s cooking skills, read A Girl’s Gotta Eat.