Thursday, October 11, 2012

The hurdle of riches

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 10:17-34

TO CHEW ON: "Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, 'How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!'
And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, 'Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!'"

Note the subtle difference in the way Jesus phrased His explanation, in response to the disciples' dismay, about the kingdom of God and riches: "'How hard it is for those to have riches .... who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!'" It seems He is saying that though it's possible for the person with material riches to enter the kingdom of God, it's hard not to trust in riches when you have them.

Though Jesus was talking here about the riches of material things, I believe His statement about riches also applies to other kinds of wealth:
- the riches of talents and giftedness.
- the riches of friends and influence.
- the riches of intellect.
- the riches of position.

It's easy to trust in riches whatever kind they are. But these things won't buy us into heaven or, when used on their own, guarantee the accomplishment of kingdom work (though Jesus' words "'With men it is impossible but not with God; for with God all things are possible,'" makes me reflect that God can flip anything to do His purposes, even things we do with self-serving motives).

The real key to entering the kingdom of God and living life in it here on earth is poverty. Jesus expressed it clearly on the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" - Matthew 5:3.

The uncomfortable truth for many of us in the wealthy west is that it's hard to know at an experience level what it is to be poor in spirit because of our riches in other every department.

Dear God, it's hard for me to imagine life without the material comforts around me and I easily trust in all kinds of things besides You. Help me to view all my riches from a right perspective. Amen.

MORE: "We have nothing"

In a recent Canadian Bible Society newsletter National Director Ted Seres tells of Madam Guo, a poor Chinese woman who received her first Bible in 1990. Two years later, she became a Christian and ever since has led people in her remote village in Bible study. When Ted asked her why she became a Christian she answered: "Because I am poor; that's why I believe. Our lives are worth nothing on earth .... We are truly blessed only if we have Christ in us. Like my neighbours I have nothing. Nothing at all. My reward is in heaven. It is only because of the Bible that I know I am rich." - Canadian Bible Society letter, August 27. 2012.


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