In Luke 18:18-30 we have the story a rich ruler who came to Jesus asking what he must do to deserve eternal life. The story brings up a number of issues. One is whether we wish to relate to God from a set of rules/ list (which, we learn in the story, is not what Jesus longs for from us) or from the heart. Jesus has an uncanny way to reveal what is really going on in us and cut through our pretenses.
The story also drives home the issue of our hearts and what essentially stands in the way of sincere faith and true relationship with God. For this particular ruler, it was his money and possessions that hindered him, but I believe it’s different for each of us. And where this issue and the first issue (on rules and lists) come together is: I believe one of big reasons we’d rather have a set of rules or a list of things to keep is it’s easier than really connecting with God from our hearts. In some ways, I wonder, as I look back on my life, if there haven’t been lots of times I made myself feel better about my connection with God because I was keeping the external rules, while secretly letting my heart be for something else. Jesus sees beyond the games we might play.