When am I enough? Just me. At what point does my identity unhinge itself from what I do? Christians love to talk about salvation built on faith; not works, but then we go and find all kinds of things to do to make ourselves feel busy. Things that create the illusion of fruitfulness—campaigns, classes, initiatives, potlucks. We love to appear as if we’re about the work of Christ. And that’s just in public. In our private lives, we read books, listen to podcasts, play worship music, fill journals, stage Instagram photos, highlight scripture until our bibles look radioactive, and recite prayers so often, they become superstition.

In Matthew 19, a rich man asks Jesus what he should do to earn eternal life. When Jesus tells him to keep the commandments, the man says he already does. Then Jesus tells him to go and sell everything he has and give the proceeds to the poor. You almost have to wonder if Jesus is just messing with him at this point. Rattling off the first impossible scenario to enter his head, the way an accomplished actor might tell an aspiring one to “never stop shooting for the stars…” But then Jesus adds this cherry on top: “Oh, and come, follow me…” To which the man goes away saddened.

We are the rich guy. So why are we trying to hit what seems to be such an impossible target? Even Jesus knew it was impossible. He basically tells the man, to his face: “You. Have. No. Shot.” But what if something else is at play here? A complexity beyond wealth. Perhaps Jesus knew the rich man’s brain was hardwired to DO things. He was conditioned to believe he’d earned it all, himself. Who can say the pursuit of the Christian life doesn’t feel this way at times? Sure, we keep the “once saved, always saved” card in our back pocket, but not a day goes by that we don’t think we have to earn it…