Saturday, February 06, 2010

Dealing with Wealth

Mark 10:25-27
(25)  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
(26)  And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?"
(27)  Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God."

(25)  εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ τῆσ τρυμαλιᾶς τῆσ ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν. 
(26)  οἱ δὲ περισσῶς ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες πρὸς ἑαυτούς, Καὶ τίς δύναται σωθῆναι; 
(27)  ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει, Παρὰ ἀνθρώποις ἀδύνατον ἀλλ' οὐ παρὰ θεῷ, πάντα γὰρ δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ θεῷ.

This passage is a fun one to preach to the American church.  This is especially true in light of the excesses that we enjoy in the name of Jesus.  Take a peek at what goes on down in Houston, for example.  So we come up with clever ways around this passage.  One of my favorites is that there was a gate in the wall of Jerusalem called "the eye of the needle."  It was so small that a camel had to be unloaded and then had to kneel down to go through it.  Therefore, Jesus is supposedly telling us that it is not impossible as it seems when we consider putting a real camel through a real needle.

The problem with this is verse 27.  Apparently it was possible for man to shove a camel through that narrow passage.  However, Jesus tells us that a rich man entering heaven is impossible for man to do, but God can do it.  This leads to a couple of points.

The first is that it is impossible for any man to enter the kingdom of God on his own.  Man needs God to save him.  However, I don't think that is the particular emphasis here, though the repeated παρὰ in verse 27 does reinforce how it all works.

I think that this passage must be read with Jesus' other teachings on wealth.  I don't think that Jesus commands all of us to be paupers.  However, He does command us not to be mastered by money.  Most of us in America don't feel like we're mastered by money.  We don't feel like we are because we don't think much about it when we have plenty of it.  It is inconceivable for us to live like the Haitians do.  Yet people do survive that way.

Are we to sell everything like Jesus commanded the Rich Young Ruler?  Maybe, but not necessarily.  I think Jesus knew what stood between this man and truly embracing Christ.  He was not ready to let go of his functional savior that he had in wealth.  Instead, he wanted to have it both ways.  

Are you ready to let go of everything for Jesus?  My daughter is sitting near me playing LEGO Indiana Jones. My son is napping upstairs.  I love them both dearly.  Could I stand to have them taken away?  I don't want to contemplate it, but ultimately God needs to be my source of joy, not them.  The same goes for my wife, my job, my health, etc.  Ultimately God needs to be enough.

Is He enough for you?

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