Archive for July 3rd, 2012

I have seen and heard it happen a million times.

A group of church-ie people will be talking together, and someone will enter the room, or a name of someone will come up. The ‘someone’ would be a person of means, a person who is well-to-do, a person of wealth. And the disdainful facial expression of Simon Cowell about to tell a performer his opinion of their lack of talent will get them nowhere in this life, creeps upon someones face.

Now, it is not often that the disdain is specifically pointed towards that person who, unassumingly, walked in the room, but to their wealth.

There will be comments about the person’s new car, or new house, and how very  extravagant they are. There will be talk of the vacations they have been on, of the flashy clothes they wear or the ‘toys’ that their children have. And the entire conversation will be laced with disdain.

Just because a person has ‘wealth’ does not mean that they are holding tightly to their wealth, any more than every ‘poor’ Christian gives all that they posses, down to their last mite penny (but not in Canada, as we are doing away with the penny … does that mean we are cent-less?).

I think we have often focused on the story of Jesus and the rich ruler, but we have failed to read it beyond the self-gratifying surface.

In Mark 10:17-27, the story enfolds …

“As he (that would be Jesus) went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”

 (note: the man came to Jesus, showing him “reverence” and respect … “good teacher”)

“Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.””

(note: Jesus is reminding the man of what every Jewish person would have known at that time)

 “He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”

(note: how often have we all thought that we were ‘keeping them all?”)

“Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him!”

(note: Jesus LOVED him … like He loves us all)

“He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”

(note: Jesus asks for the willingness to do this of all who claim the name of Jesus, and not just the visibly or obviously rich, as later Jesus tells the disciples that this will be asked of all who wish to enter God’s kingdom)

“The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.”

(note: there is alot to unpack here! The man did not expect to hear what Jesus said, because, until Jesus came, keeping not just the top ten, but the six hundred and thirteen rules of life and living for a good Jew, was what was expectied. He was holding tightly to a lot of things … sort of like us, rich or poor, with our homes, our vehicles, our grandmother’s ring, our photo albums, our video games, etc. Are we willing to “let go” … of everything?)

“Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.”

(note: we, in North America, have it ALL! Check out this Global Rich Calculator … I am sure that, like myself, you are in the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people. Maybe, having it all means that we would have a more difficult time letting go of what we hold tightly?)

“That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked. Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.””

Note: Anyone who is reading this blog post is wealthy … the only chance that any of us has to enter God’s kingdom, is to let God do the work of changing our lives. We just need to be willing to hold what we have loosely in our hands.

And, get rid of that Simon Cowell look of disdain!


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