“If you want to be perfect…”
Perfection, while we should still pursue it, is not actually attainable for any period of time. John Wesley spoke of Christian Perfection, being perfect in love. He believed that people could catch glimpses of perfection, which he described as a heart “habitually filled with the love of God and neighbor” and as “having the mind of Christ and walking as he walked.” *
I have come to believe that through these series of conversations that Jesus had with Pharisees, the disciples and regular people that he wasn’t setting up criteria for entrance, rather he was saying: you can’t enter the kingdom.
You can never be good enough. And neither can anyone else. (Which is probably why we’re not supposed to judge.)
You’re not going to sell all your possessions, you’re not probably not going to be celibate and certainly not going to be castrated, you’re not going to deny yourself and pick up an actual cross to your execution, you’re not going to be able to forgive every person who has ever caused you pain.
Jesus did not come to complicate the entrance exam into the kingdom, he came to give the keys away. To allow the kingdom to spill into earth. We don’t enter it when we die because of our self-righteousness and moral perfection, we experience the kingdom’s presence on earth through self-denying love and pursuit of God’s holy presence. We enter God’s kingdom through God’s grace, not because of our efforts.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.
But, if you want to nitpick and ask Jesus to make it more complicated so that you be saved by your own works through the Law, you can try. And Jesus will show you just how absurd it is.
Love. Just love.