January 29, 2015
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today is from Mark 10:23-27.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at this words. So Jesus said again to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through [the] eye of [a] needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
According the notes in the New American Bible, in the Hebrew Bible “wealth and material goods are considered a sign of God’s favor. The words of Jesus provoke astonishment among the disciples because of their apparent contradiction of the Old Testament concept. Since wealth, power, and merit generate false security, Jesus rejects them utterly as a claim to enter the kingdom. Achievement of salvation is beyond human capability and depends solely on the goodness of God who offers it as a gift.”
Jesus has been teaching me about the reality that I am dependent upon God alone for everything but especially for entry into His kingdom. Try as I might to be financially secure, to exert control, to gain power, none of that will assure that I will enter the kingdom of God. In fact, to the contrary, I will only make it more difficult for myself. I can’t do it on my own. I have to finally recognize, and act in accordance, that I am completely dependent upon God’s love, His mercy, and His grace. My salvation is a gift from Him; I cannot earn it.
That goes against everything I was taught as a child and learned on my own. I’ve always thought I could earn my just rewards. If I worked hard enough, if I was good enough, I could earn what I wanted. I could earn love; I could earn a good life; I could earn a pass from hardship and heartache. It doesn’t work that way, though. Again and again, Jesus tells me about the need to be humble, to give up the arrogant notion that I can earn anything. Everything is a gift from God, totally unmerited. That’s such a hard thing to get through my head. Whether I am good or selfish or sinful, God still blesses me with His love and gifts. I can’t do anything to earn it; I can’t make a camel pass through the eye of a needle. It’s when I accept the gift of His love fully that I am able to see that He provides the same gift to everyone. He loves them no matter what. It helps me to be more accepting, less judgmental, less rejecting. That’s the way of thinking and being that Jesus wants to get me to; he wants me to enter the kingdom.
He wants me to enter His kingdom. It’s His gift to me; I can’t earn it. It’s up to me to accept it in gratitude and humility. I can be saved!