Thursday, April 23, 2009

Eye of the Needle

eye of the needle

And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
Matthew 19:23-24

This passage if often preached poorly. It has been used to harangue those who are wealthy. That was not Jesus' point. Yes, the rich young man in this account could not let go of his wealth. But that does not mean all those with wealth are doomed to hell for materialism. Jesus makes the point that riches add "difficulty" to a rich person's ability to follow Him. This is certainly evident in the case at point in the account. But Jesus also had wealthy followers. Nicodemus was a wealthy and influential man who eventually chose to give it all up for Jesus at His death. So was Joseph of Arimethea.

And there is evidence in the book of Acts that riches and influence do not force folks away from the kingdom. The Ethiopian eunuch had both wealth and political power. Lydia was a wealthy women. Aquila and Priscilla seemed to own a thriving business. In Romans, Phoebe is mentioned as a servant of the church, and she seems to have some means to support Paul's ministry. So wealth is not the issue, it is the heart's attitude toward it. And the reality is that some wealthy people refuse to be enticed away from the real issues. They can follow Jesus, with difficulty. So do those of us who live paycheck to paycheck!

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