Luke 18:18-30 (CEV)
18 An important man asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?”
19 Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Respect your father and mother.’”
21 He told Jesus, “I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man.”
22 When Jesus heard this, he said, “There is one thing you still need to do. Go and sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and be my follower.” 23 When the man heard this, he was sad, because he was very rich.
24 Jesus saw how sad the man was. So he said, “It’s terribly hard for rich people to get into God’s kingdom! 25 In fact, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God’s kingdom.”
26 When the crowd heard this, they asked, “How can anyone ever be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.”
28 Peter said, “Remember, we left everything to be your followers!”
29 Jesus answered, “You can be sure that anyone who gives up home or wife or brothers or family or children because of God’s kingdom 30 will be given much more in this life. And in the future world they will have eternal life.”
God Can Do Anything
I am rich.
There’s no way to get around that. I’m not in the top 1% of anybody’s metrics, but I live in a home that we are slowly buying back from the bank, I have investments for retirement, we have two cars on the drive, and I have never had to put my children to bed hungry.
When someone gets sick at our house, I don’t have to choose between paying for medicine or paying the electricity bill.
When something breaks that’s important, I can almost always find a way to replace it within a few weeks of it breaking.
I am also rich when it comes to community.
I have people in my life who, in the last twelve months alone, have provided me with rides to appointments, taken my kids to important events, shown up with meals, washed my dishes and cleaned my house, contributed to the cost of a racing wheelchair, and run me in my chair over long distances!
I have people who have advocated for me, believed in me, stood up to me, and stood with me.
I have left behind ideas and ideologies, boundaries and rules to follow Jesus, but that feels small compared to the things Jesus is talking about giving up today.
So I have always felt deeply uncomfortable about this passage.
I have friends who have given up their home and their lives – sold everything to follow Jesus into the work they were called to do. That’s not me, but I always worried that it should be!
And yet, even as Jesus tells the people following him that day that it was going to be really hard for the rich to become part of the Kingdom, he didn’t say that it was impossible. He said that with God anything can happen.
So, for those who are feeling poor this morning, here is your encouragement – it might be easier for you to decide to enter the Kingdom than for someone who is wealthier than you – though that doesn’t stop us from having a responsibility to care for you in the midst of whatever’s going on in your world right now! Please let us know if you are struggling and need help!
Jesus’ encouragement for you today, however, is to not get caught up in being jealous of those who seem to have more than you do – but to get on with diving straight in to this Kingdom of life and abundance that Jesus is offering – enjoy!
But for those who think they’re rich this morning – those possibly feeling guilty about what you have – remember that Jesus said with God anything can happen.
It’s not going to happen if we just go on with our lives, carefully keeping the simple, easy commandments Jesus talks about at the beginning of this section. The rules are not going to change us enough to get us living a Kingdom way of life.
It’s only going to happen if we realize we are in desperate need of God’s help if this is going to take place. And I think this is why we who are rich tend to struggle so much.
You see, when all of my needs are met, I can forget that I still depend on God.
When I have everything I need without needing to ask for anything, then I can forget that God created us for community with God and with each other.
When I can afford to isolate myself in a single-family dwelling with a backyard fence – inside a car I can drive around the city and then pull into my garage – then it becomes harder to be engaged with the world outside of these walls. It becomes easy to turn a blind eye to the injustices of the world we are called to participate in transforming. I can confuse our quiet, peaceful home with the achievement of shalom on earth, and shut out the pain of the brokenness that continues to surround us.
But if we realize that we are in need of God – if we take all of the resources and wealth and opportunity that God has given us – all of our education and contacts and assets – and go back to God with them all and say, “how can this be used to encourage the growth of the Kingdom?” you’d be amazed at the kinds of anything God might make happen.
- I’m going to encourage you this week to make a list of all that God has given you.
- Then ask God to show you – how can these gifts be used to encourage the growth of the Kingdom?
- On the other side of the discussion, make a list of all of the things that you need God for.
- Then ask God to show you – how can you become more aware of your need for God this week?