Read Mark 10:17-27
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)
What does it mean to be rich? Does it mean having all of the possessions in the world? Does it mean having all of the success in the world? Is being rich in conflict with being a Christian? Did Jesus have something against the wealthy? There are people who interpret the words of Jesus as being an indictment of the rich. But is that truly the case, or is that missing the point as much as the rich man in the story missed the point? I believe the latter to be true.
The problem with the rich man in the reading for today was not that he was rich. The problem was that he was solely dependant on himself for everything. After all, HE was the one who had followed the Torah since he was a boy. HE was the one who earned his way to his wealth. HE was the one who followed Jesus to this point, and HE was the one who was going to find the SECRET to eternal life. It wasn’t enough that he was rich; rather, he knew there was more to life than money. Otherwise, he would not have sought Jesus out in the first place. With that said, he, was certainly missing the point on what eternal life really is and that, unlike his wealth, it is not attainable by “earning” it.
Jesus tells the man that in order for him to inherit eternal life, he must sell everything he has, give the money to the poor and follow him. The man, unfortunately, turns away thinking that he can never inherit the kingdom of God (to be understood as synonymous with eternal life). Selling everything is too great a cost for him to pay, even for eternal life.
But to Jesus, the Kingdom of God was not something that was to be attained later, nor was it something that was “pie in the sky” and/or out there for one to “earn”. Rather, Jesus always spoke of the Kingdom of God as being near and, in fact, at hand. The trick was to realize that in order to “inherit” the Kingdom of God, you only had to be willing to let God usher it in through you. But you cannot do that so long as you love anything more than you love God. If you put God first, and deem everything else as rubbish in comparison (to quote Paul), then God will usher it in through you, and you WILL inherit the Kingdom of God.
What is this Kingdom of God that Jesus is referring to? It is the willingness to give all of yourself for the sake of others. It is the act of loving your neighbors (including your enemies) as yourself. It is becoming the servant of all and caring for the “least of these”. And by doing all of those things, one is loving God with all of one’s soul, heart and strength. But if this is true, who in the world can be saved? Jesus gave his disciples this answer, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God,” (Mark 10:27, NLT).
So, there it is. If we are to “inherit” the Kingdom of God, then we are to open ourselves to the change that God brings in us, through us and, certainly, in spite of us. That change will lead us to live out the two greatest commandments (AKA the Kingdom of God) in our lives, meaning that we will be living out the Kingdom of God in the lives of others! It is then that you will be truly rich!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can” – John Wesley
Lord, help me to realize that the Kingdom of God is near and that, in fact, it is already at hand. Guide me to give all of myself for the sake of the Kingdom! Amen.