Do any of us consider ourselves rich?
Do we think that we’re “pretty good” people, and that it’s not a stretch for God to let us into heaven?
Aren’t modern people far more rich than those during Jesus’ times, and wouldn’t we then face even more trouble to enter into the kingdom of heaven?
Rich People Entering Heaven is as probable as a Camel Through the Eye of a Needle
You know what’s weird?
In the teaching where Jesus says that it’s nearly impossible for a rich person to enter heaven, the disciples all considered themselves part of that group.
This makes me realize that God’s power worked in them because they recognized they were sinners and in need of His power, rather than having a hard heart that saw no need for forgiveness..
Occasionally we’ll hear someone try to use Jesus’ words “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
I was reading Matthew 19 and 20 today – where Jesus is quoted saying this twice.
In chapter 19, Jesus tells the disciples that it’s “only with difficulty, that a rich person will enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
In response, the disciples are greatly astonished and they throw up their hands and ask Jesus “Well, WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED?”
Jesus reminds them – that with man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.
All of us are going to be drawn towards selfish pursuits, and it is only because of God’s power and goodness that we would be able to enter into heaven. Our own strength and merits don’t get us into heaven, it’s ONLY by faith in Jesus, through His grace and atonement for sin, that we can be declared innocent before God.
In other words – of course we’re going to screw it all up, but this shows the power of God.
The Disciples Felt Lumped In With “The Rich”
Peter and the disciples try to remind Jesus all that they’ve left to follow HIm, looking for reassurance that they’re not going to be left out of God’s kingdom.
NOTE – this makes me think that the disciples would have considered themselves rich. When Jesus says that it’s going to be difficult, they are astonished.
Astonished and then they blurt out “who can get in then?”
Perhaps they knew how God has given wealth to all of us if we take a humble perspective, or perhaps they considered themselves rich.
The disciples might have been rich, or maybe it was because their families and loved ones were rich. For whatever reason, the disciples seem to consider themselves under this quasi-condemnation concerning the rich.
Do any of us really consider ourselves rich?
We can only be slightly aware of our blessings, and sin causes us to live in a comparative manner. We don’t count our blessings until something aweful happens.
For example, it wasn’t until I got by eyeball scratched for me to really really appreciate my eyesight.
Think of how many days we go about our life in a bad mood, when there could be the alternative of having our eyes feel like they’re being gouged out contsantly because of a scratched cornea.
Or it wasn’t until I had a major neck injury, before I realized how good it is to go about days without such an injury.
Our level of richness, or blessing, is percieved and self-realized, primarily in comparison to others.
Here in the post-modern west, even our poor people are amazingly wealthy compred to so many alternatives – and yet political parties claim that the poor are disenfranchised.
My point is that it’s interesting here that the disciples respond as identifying with the group that would face the impossibility of going to heaven.
In another part of the Bible, Luke 5:32, Jesus tells us all that He “did not come to save those who think they are righteous, but sinners.”
So Jesus says taht it is ONLY the power of God that can get us into heaven, and then when we overlay that He came to call sinners – we see how to tap into God’s power.
God’s power to save us, both eternally and in our daily walk, is tied to our ability to recognize the sinfulness within us.
Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily, and follow HIm.
How do we know that we’re sinners?
When I drift into social media, too much work, or my daily blur of stimulation – I’m not in tune to God’s will for my life.
In fact, even just listening or reading God’s word doesn’t do it for me, it’s not until I convey my comprehension through writing that I actually digest and install God’s word into my heart.
We just had my kindergarnters parent teacher conference, and she scores amazingly high in reading and understanding letters.
Natalie is a reader, and she enjoys sitting in her bed to read her own books.
But seeing the letters and reading isn’t really what it’s about – that’s just regurgitation of what’s on paper. The teacher said that the key to reaching full potential is tied to reading comprehension.
So first we have the ability to intake the content, then we have comprehension, then we have application.
From our eyes/ears, to our mind, to our heart, to our spirit and acitons.
Here’s where I think we all need help.
The Psalmist wrote in 119:11 – “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
How do we hide God’s word in our heart?
God told the Isrealites in Joshua to:
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8 NIV)
I’ve read often that the word used for “meditate on it day and night” is like a cow chewing it’s cud. We need to process it over and over.
So how can you do that?
I think rewriting what we’ve read in a summary and then how we can apply it is helpful.
Whatever it is – I just want to challenge you to take time to chew on God’s word – and find different ways to truly comprehend it.
My daughter needs to be able to truly digest what she reads, to the point of reteaching it or applying it to her life.
Remember, that God has promised that HIs ways lead to life – and are worth implementing.
TO those that don’t believe:
Even if you don’t believe in God, I’d challenge you to really chew on what Jesus taught.
I know that when I’m cynical of something (for example, socialism) I give it no foothold or chance.
But even if you don’t believe in God, you should remember that the Bible TRULY IS THE MOST CHALLENGING MORAL COMPASS ever written.
Maybe you’re hesitant about it because it condemns sexual sin, which includes homosexuality. Or maybe you’re critical because you’ve seen how sinful men have twisted and minupluated the Christian religion through the ages to do horrific things.
All the evil that’s been done in the name of Christendome has been done in disobedience to Christ.
Read what Jesus said -and read the proverbs.
I had a good friend of mine, who’s a staunch atheist that listens to the atheist experience every day, read the proverbs. His conclusion was that it was the best advice he’d ever heard – while still being an atheist.
Nothing is more truthful or helpful than the commands to Jesus’ disciples for every day life.
Love others as yourself, be patient kind, and slow to anger. Forgive, show mercy, seek justice, love mercy, pursue reconciliation. This is all the foundational teachings of Jesus.
So check it out – and I always recommend reading an NLT Bible if you want something in our modern vernacular.