Oct. 11, 2016

Too Bad for the Rich Guy

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”  Matthew 19:23-25

In a time when society had some of its most rigid and unfair boundaries, Jesus entered the world. Women were viewed as property. Children were seen as work horses. The rich had the upper hand and the Jewish community, God’s own people, didn’t make life any easier for those they looked down upon.

Then, came Jesus.

One of the greatest fallacies of our evangelical efforts is the belief that we support people by offering forgiveness when they fail.  Premature or canned forgiveness on our part doesn't save anyone from anything. Could it be that we aren’t nearly as concerned about the rich man’s soul as we are what the rich man can do for our pocketbooks?

Christ’s teaching on the spiritual risk for the rich man served two purposes, 1) he equalized the playing field in the eyes of the community; money couldn’t buy your spiritual salvation, and 2) he put equal responsibility on both the hearer and the doer. Who can be saved? Those who seek, but how will they know unless someone speaks?

Unfortunately, we’ve turned into a society of making it all about “me.” Oh, we sugar-coat our selfishness in the mask of “holy thinking,” but God peels back the layers and sees straight into our hearts. Is our desire to lead the world to Him or to demand the world accommodate us?

Oh, Christian! You are not part of this world! You are in it – you are not of it. Or are you?

The rich man has a tough time because the rich man is required to see himself on equal playing ground as anyone else approaching Christ for forgiveness. The minute his pride, his ego, his excuses, his rambling, his blame game begins, the power of God diminishes in his own heart. He causes his own power shortage. Where are our Nathan’s of the world? Where are our prophets? Where are the strong in Christ who will confront the rich man and explain to him that he must humble himself under the mighty hand of God?

While we may be willing to push a button, punch a card, or pull a lever for him – are we willing to hold him accountable? Do we care about him or do we care about what he can do for us?

The other reason the rich man has a tough time coming to Christ is no one really wants to approach the rich guy. We want the rich guy to take care of us and make certain we share the wealth, so to speak. Sadly, many of us do not care about the rich man’s soul. We care more about his influence.

Poor, poor rich man. He will never make it through that needle’s eye. Regardless of how many Evangelicals are pushing him.