Thursday, October 8th Mark 10:23-27

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” Mark 10:23-27

How do these words sound in your ears? Where do they challenge you? Where do they comfort you? Poor people might love them…and wealthy people will recoil. Why?

The simple truth is that wealth has its benefits in our lives. With money in the bank and more rolling in every day, we have a sense of security. With all that money can buy, we can bolster our self esteem with the right clothes, the right car, the right home, etc. With the subtle, or not so subtle, power that money represents, the influence it can wield, it can heighten our status in many different settings (including the church.)

While none of this has any eternal significance, it can make a big difference in our day to day life. Money can provide the security, self esteem and status that ought to come from God alone.

In short, wealth can be idolatrous. When Jesus says “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God” he isn’t challenging the value of wealth, he is simply stating the obvious. The more you have, the greater the temptation to trust in what you have as your “god.”

This, of course, turned the disciples’ worldview upside down just as it does to us. We have been taught from the youngest ages that the goal of life is to get a great education, to work hard, to be as worldly successful as we can, and (between the lines) we all picked up the message that success is measured by $ucce$$.

The disciples assumed, as do we, that wealth was a sign of God’s favor, God’s blessing. We love to hear that! We’re impressed with everything to do with wealth. Even in the church. Big church buildings impress us. Large congregations impress us. And when we hear that “God has blessed us” we hear both the intended meaning (we really believe that all of this comes as a blessing from God) and the unintended meaning (anyone struggling along in a lesser building, with fewer people, struggling every month to meet the budget) is necessarily being less blessed by God.

It is dangerous.

So Jesus offers us a challenging corrective. His words pull us up short. They require us to think more deeply than the social conventions built into our cultural assumptions. Certainly we can be grateful for all that we have. Grateful enough to use all that we have in generous and righteous ways.

With God, all things are possible.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we are mindful of the vast differences between those who have so much and those who have so little in our world. We pray for the grace that moves us to hold very lightly to all that we have, to use our gifts well, to be grateful and generous, to consider the needs of those with less and to fight the constant temptation to want more. Help us find our identity and purpose in you alone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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