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(Part 10)


March 3, 2014
Today’s gospel: Mark 10:17-27

“How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (v.23). Jesus said this right after and in response to the incident of the rich man. Notice that the rich man was a good godly man. He earnestly sought how “to inherit eternal life” (v.17). He observed the commandments from his youth (v.20). But when told to sell all that he had, give to the poor, and then follow Jesus (v.21), “his face fell, and he want away sad, for he had many possessions.” (v.22).

Why are wealth and possessions seemingly opposed to living a full life of faith and entering fully into the kingdom of God? There are a number of reasons.

First, you cannot serve God and mammon; you will end of loving one and hating the other. Thus attachment to wealth and possessions is always a threat to love for and devotion to God.

Second, wealth results in pride, self-reliance, and even conformity to the ways of the world. Are not rich people the hardest to evangelize? That is because they think they have no need of God, since they can just rely on themselves. On the other hand, are not the poor much more open to the gospel? That is because they have nothing else but God.

Third, trying to preserve wealth and even expand possessions can drive one into greed, and even unethical or unjust business practices. One can be led to focus on building bigger barns. One is sucked into living a profligate lifestyle.

Fourth, it becomes more difficult to give a full tithe back to God, thereby making one a bigger thief who robs God.

Fifth, it becomes much more challenging to be a faithful steward, entrusted by God to manage His resources. One gets to spend more and more on himself, and less on others. One unwittingly becomes a party to social injustice. Others who do give part of their wealth away, give it to anti-family and anti-life causes, such as what is being done by many liberal western billionaires. They actually use God’s money against God.

So we can see why Jesus spoke so emphatically about one who is rich. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (v.25). Our reaction would be like the disciples who were exceedingly astonished as we ask, “Then who can be saved?” (v.26). Then who among the rich can be saved? Then who among those who have wealth and many possessions can be saved?

How then does the rich man make it into the kingdom? Well, first of all, when asked what one must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus pointed to the commandments (v.17,19). It is not that the rich cannot enter the kingdom; it is just much harder for them to enter.

Secondly, we need to know that aside from the reality that mammon is a serious threat to our life in Christ, there is more to such life than just making it to heaven. Thus, seeing how sincerely the rich man wanted to inherit eternal life, Jesus pointed him to the higher path. “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (v.21). Selling what he had would deliver the man from any conflict between God and mammon. Then he could wholeheartedly follow Jesus and give him his all. God always wants to lift us higher.

Finally, since God calls us to holiness and Christian perfection, we must know that such is impossible for us, with our weak human flesh, with the allure of the world, and with the constant temptations and attacks of the evil one. “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!” (v.24b). How then can we be saved? We turn to God. “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” (v.27). We embrace His way of life. We put our faith, trust and hope in Him.

Jesus’ words to the rich man are also for us. We also “sell what we have.” We live in a spirit of detachment. We recognize we are mere stewards of “what we own.” We spend less for self. We live a simple lifestyle. We choose God and not mammon. Then we “give to the poor.” We love and serve the poor. We share our resources with those in need. We look to giving more for others. All these are so that there will be enough for all, so that there will be social justice. Then we “will have treasure in heaven.” Then we can truly follow Jesus, all the way to the Kingdom.

Today we are called to be a Church of the Poor. One of our 7 Core Values in CFC-FFL is “Living a preferential option for the poor.” A major movement God has led us to is the No One in Need (NONe) movement. Let us understand our call, and by the grace of God, live it out to the full. Then we can rightfully enter into the Kingdom of God.

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