Wednesday, 16 October 2019
This question was asked when Jesus said that it would be difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. One of the rulers He talked with has just walked away sad because He asked him to let go of all his riches, sell them and give to the poor. The man considered his possessions more precious than obeying the instructions of Jesus. He missed a life changing opportunity.
My focus today is not to attempt to answer the question the disciples asked but to address the mindset and assumptions that produce such a question.
Firstly, the question assumes that the rich enjoys special favors from God and a man who has wealth is held at high esteem before Him. Even if the poor does not get an answer from God, when the rich asks, God will quickly answer because he is rich in wealth, they thought. Hence what Jesus said stunned them and they asked, if the rich is not saved, who then can be saved?
Secondly, this question assumes that God looks at the rich the same way man looks at him. It assumes that our values are the same with God’s - He places value on the things we place value upon. Here we value people based on our perception of their wealth size. Special attention is paid on people based on what we perceive them to worth in terms of wealth. Jesus’ assertion was against this assumption; therefore, the question, “who then can be saved”
Thirdly, the question assumes that God knows, recognizes and regards people based on their riches. Here we honor people and respect their views based on our perception of their wealth level. Oftentimes, even when their views have logical flaws, they are managed and their flaws ignored because their wealth is important to us. In some cultures, people are given chieftaincy titles only because they are perceived to have more wealth than others. They are made rulers and given positions of authority. Those that heard Jesus were astonished to see Him ask the rich man to sell everything he had, give them to the poor, and then come and follow Him. The man walked away sad and Jesus did not bother to pursue after and call him back, instead He commented as He watched him walk away “how hard is it for the rich to enter the kingdom of God”. His commentary shocked their assumptions and they asked “who then can be saved?”
Finally, the question assumes that salvation is easier for the rich than for the poor. In fact, the rich enjoys God’s salvation while the poor that suffers has problems with God, they thought. Just for illustration, if you are in a meeting and disaster happens, you notice that attempts will be made first to rescue those in authority and people of wealth before others, displaying the supposition that their salvation is more important than the salvation of every other person involved in the tragedy. That is who we are in this world. That is the life we live based on these assumptions. The audience of Jesus was astounded to hear Him alluding to the possibility of the rich not making the Kingdom of God and they asked “who then can be saved?”
God gives us the power to make wealth and our wealth increases our power to create options. As God increases us and expands our capacity to create options, may we not create options or alternatives to Him or become gods ourselves. Instead may we keep our hearts humble and remain poor in spirit and in awe of Him knowing that no matter how powerful, rich and untouchable we may become before men, with God alone belongs all possibilities including doing to and with us that which no man is able to do. The reply of the Lord Jesus is instructive here, “what is impossible with men is possible with God” Luke 18 vs 27.
What are our assumptions when we choose our preferences? Even in the church, what are the assumptions that drive the things we do? It is clear that behind our questions, attitudes and actions are the assumptions we have made. Wrong assumptions will lead to wrong living. May we ensure that our assumptions do not run against the mind of Christ. This is because His ways are not our ways. God bless you.