Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Thought

“How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!”  Luke 18:24-25

Jesus had just been approached by the “rich young ruler” who had asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus begins by quoting Torah in citing some of the commandments.  Satisfied with himself, the young ruler replied that he had been faithful and obedient since his youth.  Then Jesus upped the ante by tell this young man that “you still lack one thing; sell all you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come and follow Me.” 

Too often we read this passage so literally that we miss the overall meaning, and what we overlook most often is the definition of “rich” (“he was very rich”).  Most of us do not consider ourselves “very rich” in terms of material possessions, cash accounts, etc.; so we tend to let ourselves off the hook.  In this passage, however, “rich” is relative and challenges us all to take into account what we do have, however much or little there may be.  The bottom line is that no one is given a pass by our Lord!

There is a saying, “All we have is a gift from God; what we do with what we have in our gift to God.”  This applies to our excess (if any) as well as to the “meat and potatoes” of our budgets.  And if our primary focus in our budgeting is self-satisfaction, self-preservation, or especially self-glorification, we are misusing what we have.  In such a state of mind and being, then, we would just as likely be the ones walking away “sorrowful” because we are unwilling to reevaluate our lives, our budgets, our giving, our spending habits. 

And this is where the passages strikes at the heart of the entire Church.  To read this passage literally, all our wealth is to be sold and the proceeds given to the poor.  Again, however, what is the measure of “wealth”?  And exactly what constitutes “poor”?  This is what I believe we are being challenged to evaluate.  Would we give up everything we have to obtain the eternal treasure that is the Kingdom?  Or have we fallen victim to a cheesy and empty religious belief that has given us permission to overlook this and so many other passages as “excused”?  That Jesus is not talking to “us” because we’re “saved”, or He wants us to be happy, and that material wealth is the source of our happiness as evidence of Divine Love?

Finally, what can we take with us as we “follow” Jesus?  Can we really be free to “follow” Him burdened with all we have or all we hope to have?  Do we believe we can have our cake and eat it, too?  Because this is our Lord’s challenge to each and every soul – without exception.  So if we become “sorrowful” or defensive in being asked to give up our worldly treasures for the sake of another or if we decide He does not mean “me”, we’ve already missed the point and are blinded to the reality of the Kingdom of God.

We must open our eyes and our hearts to the reality that there is still much for us to learn.  Nothing is settled until the Lord returns to settle all accounts, in which time “the last will be first, and the first will be last”. 

Study the Scriptures.  Pray earnestly for direction.  Be assured the Lord has given no one a pass, and be assured that the Lord does need YOU.  He always has.



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