Yesterday marriage, today money: Jesus gives us another very hard word in today’s reading. Is it possible to be wealthy and inherit eternal life?
The answer: Technically yes, but it’s practically impossible. (That’s what Jesus says, not me, so don’t shoot the messenger!)
Here’s my question: Why? Why is it so hard to be wealthy and live into the Kingdom?
I think it’s because the essential question every person must ask is this: am I going to be lord of my life, or will I choose to submit to the Lordship of Christ? That’s a difficult choice for everyone and has been since Eden, but for the rich it becomes even more excruciating because one of the things that wealth brings is control. The more wealth you have, the more control you have, or more accurately, the more control you think you have. Wealth lures you into the spiritual trap of self-sufficiency, and the more wealth you have, the deeper into the trap you walk.
There are 2 ways that rich guys like me try to wriggle out from under this hard teaching of Jesus:
- We tell ourselves that we aren’t really that wealthy–now John Doe, that guy is wealthy. But this is a lie: I personally have more wealth not only than most people who have ever lived, but more than most people living today.
- Or, we comfort ourselves at Jesus’s words that, although it is impossible for man that the rich to be saved, with God all things are possible. The problem with relying on those words is that I can too easily let myself off the hook and not take Jesus seriously.
There is no question: if we are going to be followers of Jesus, we must wrestle hard with the question of wealth. If not, it’s liable to overpower us.
I’m a wealthy American, and I expect I will be my entire life: wealth won’t go away for me. I think Jesus is telling me that I am going to have to constantly bring my wealth before him in prayer and ask the question, “Lord, am I being a good steward of this?”
But then again, I guess I’m the only one with this problem, right?
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