As I type these thoughts, I’m sitting in a cushioned, high-back chair and using a relatively new computer.
The temperature outside is quite mild, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s a very comfortable 70 degrees where I am. If it varies a few degrees one way or the other, that’s easy enough to fix.
I’m not sure what I’ll eat for my next meal, but I’m not the slightest bit worried about whether or not I’ll have something to eat.
Can you relate?
If so, that says all we need to know about where we both stand in the world.
Over three billion people right now are somehow scraping by on less than $2 a day.
I spent four times that this morning on a book I think I might like to read.
That’s probably why many of us stumble through passages like this one.
After a rich man walked away from Jesus, the Lord turned to the disciples and said:
“How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:23-27).
The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, probably because they thought wealth meant God was pleased with you, a common assumption in their world.
If the ones God has blessed can’t be saved, no one has a chance, they were thinking.
Jesus quickly turned that assumption on its head, as he did so many others.
Instead of suggesting God’s approval, money makes it more difficult to go to heaven. Jesus paints a funny picture of a camel trying to get through the eye of a needle, which is impossible, of course (don’t buy into any interpretation that suggests anything less than absolute impossibility).
Jesus is saying that rich people can’t go to heaven, not unless God steps in.
Because money makes us think we’re self-sufficient, that we don’t need anything.
It opens doors and buys respect.
It gets us what we want.
The thing we like about it the most, though, is that it brings independence, and we like independence.
We feel strong, powerful, in control.
Which are the very qualities that prevent true discipleship.
Entering the kingdom means submitting yourself totally to the lordship of Jesus. It means acknowledging that you depend completely on God for your future.
And we wealthy folks don’t like to do that, not at all. We take comfort in being self-sufficient.
But this passage ends on a positive note.
“All things are possible with God.”
It’s crucial to notice where Jesus points when he talks about salvation.
He’s always looking at God.
God will turn our eyes away from self and make us acknowledge our dependence on him.
We’ll see wealth as a gift from God that he’ll use to his glory, not as some sort of façade that gives us a false sense of self-sufficiency.
Through God’s power we’ll direct our trust toward Jesus alone.
Then he, and only he, will get the camel through that needle.