Mark 10:23 “Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!'”
I wish Jesus hadn’t said that. Thankfully, I’m not wealthy. Not Bill Gates wealthy. Not Warren Buffet wealthy. Not even $100,000 per year wealthy. Phew!
I’m so glad Jesus wasn’t talking about me.
Research by Oxfam, an anti-poverty charity, shows that the wealthiest 1% of the world will own more of the world’s wealth than the other 99% put together, by next year (2016). I think I can assure you that this will not include me. Once again, I’m relieved. Obviously, Jesus was talking about other people.
In January 2013, the World Bank reported that almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. But poverty in the developing world goes far beyond income poverty.
Truth be told, if I can pay my bills on time, have a regular income and some kind of health coverage, can afford a home (even with a mortgage), own a car, eat out, visit movies, and have a wardrobe of more than one outfit (even if I have credit card debt), I am indeed among the wealthiest of this world … and the target of Jesus’ comment.
And He declares that it will be hard for me to enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus may be speaking about salvation, but I suspect it is more likely that He means we will struggle to live well and fully, to flourish, in the reign of God; especially when we have relatively little need for Christ. When I’m sick, I don’t pray. I visit a doctor. When I am hungry, I don’t learn simplicity. I buy what I want. The material comforts and access, distract me from immaterial priorities.
Historically, Lent has been a season to not only give something up, but to give something away. It calls for self-denial on the one hand and generosity on the other.
Perhaps today, as an act of faith and devotion, we can practice the grace of generosity with others, with the poorest. And in doing so, may we experience a touch more of the kingdom of God among us and within us.