by Pastor Stephen Abraham
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Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ (Mark 10:23).
In the early 90s, I was part of the ‘Christ Knows No Distance’ team, ‘Highway One’. A full-year commitment. I, along with, six other young people left our homes, families, jobs and security. We would visit a church and stay with them for a few weeks. We helped them with outreach in their community, and we used music, drama and testimony to share the love of Jesus. As a ‘faith ministry’, we had no income. We trusted that the Lord would provide – and provide he did! We were billeted out into the homes of generous Lutheran congregants, and gifts – monetary and in-kind – made our ministry possible. It was an amazing time of growth and challenge to see what God was doing in people’s lives and to inspire, encourage and witness.
Fast forward 20 years, and I am a wealthy man – even as pastor on extended medical leave. I own a property, vehicles, technology and a wardrobe of lovely clothes! I live in one of the richest countries in the world. God has provided me with more than I need. By world standards, I truly am a wealthy man!
So how are we wealthy Aussies and Kiwis to react to Jesus’ words? Are we to give all we have away and ‘live by faith’ as the disciples did? Maybe! I know some who have been called to live like that, just as I did for a year. But, if these verses talk about ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of heaven’ for the wealthy, the previous verses 13 to 16 talk about people who find it easy to enter the kingdom of heaven!
Read Mark 10:13–16.
Yes, it’s children! Why? One of my favourite Bible commentators, Brian Stoffregen, puts it like this:
I think that the reason it is harder for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God than children is that the wealthy have usually been very successful in running their lives by themselves. They don’t have to be dependent on anyone. They can buy it themselves. In contrast, young children know about being dependent on others. They know that there are many things beyond their abilities to do. Perhaps that’s why it is easier for them to enter the kingdom. They know that they need help and are willing to accept it.
Giving up control. Letting go, and ‘letting God!’ Not getting sucked into the eternal vacuum of materialism in a vain attempt ‘find contentment’.
Learning to let go. Learning to give. Learning to ask for help.
Lord Jesus, in this quiet moment with you, open my ears to hear your voice. You are Lord of my life. I offer to you myself, my time and my possessions. Send me where you will. Catch me as I let go of all the trappings of this world. Help me to depend on you for all my needs. Amen.