How do we deal with money and being a disciple, a follower of Jesus? Does how we use our money change our relationship to God?The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 48As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’
Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’ Mark 10:17-31
In our section of Mark today, a man ran up to Jesus and knelt before him. The man wants to know how to inherit eternal life. Jesus says you know the commandments: do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor you father and mother. The man says, I have kept all of these from my youth. Jesus looks at the man and loved him. Jesus loved him and says, 'There is one more thing. Go, Sell all you have, and give it to the poor. You will be blessed in heaven. Come and Follow me.' The man hearing this, his face shows it all, he loses the hope he had come to Jesus with and leaves. Jesus loved him and he left. Jesus called him and he left. Jesus shared with him what would bring him into God's kingdom and he left.
After he left, Jesus looked around and said to the twelve, "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God." The disciples were amazed by what he said. He follows this up with 'it is easier for a camel to go through a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.' So much for the prosperity gospel. The idea that when you have God's blessing you will be granted wealth, riches, money is a barrier to embracing God's kingdom. Jesus is challenging the belief that wealth demonstrated God's favor. This belief has always been around that if you have achieved power and status, God has blessed you. Jesus is arguing that it is not money that shows blessing.
The disciples gasp, "Who than can be saved." Jesus looked at them and says, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible." Money isn't a sign of favor; instead it can be a barrier to fully living into the kingdom.
Peter asks what about us, we have left everything. Jesus than says that those who have left family and wealth for my sake, for the Gospel will be blessed with persecution and in the age to come eternal life. Many who are first will be last and the last will be first. Following Jesus is not easy. It means leaving behind what holds us back from God whether family or wealth. Following Jesus will lead to persecution. To live the kingdom life is to challenge the status quo with God's dream for the world. It is to think about us, all of us, and not just me and mine. This is hard in a culture that tells us the goal is to succeed, to get ahead, to move up in status and power, that anyone can make it big. We are invited to turn a mirror on the reality and question a social order where people who work a full time job do not have enough money for food and housing. But some have so much money they have multiple houses and throw food away. Where a few have so much and most have so little, our understanding of money needs to be transformed. Jesus is letting us know that money and your relationship to money can be a stumbling block to discipleship. But with God, this stumbling block can be transformed.
Sit down to day with your checkbook, savings account, record of money. As you look at how your money flows in and out of your check book. Ask God to show you where you need to change how you spend your money. Where you need to change your spending in order to give it to the places and people God is asking you to help. Prayer for guidance in how to use your money wisely and compassionately. Look up your spending and know that Jesus looks at you with love and invites you to come and follow. Amen.
O Where Are You Going