Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jesus was weird ...

These kids, their gracious family, and their camel reminded me ...         
Jesus was a strange fellow.  According to him, if you're rich you'll find it extraordinarily difficult to enter the 'kingdom'.  And I wonder if that's the here and now kingdom, too, rather than just the by-and-by place.

OK, so why preach this gospel if rich people can't make the cut?  All his talk about loving the whole world, doesn't that include the rich?

There are arguments in every century about his statement, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  

Attempts have been made        
by commentators to soften      
the apparently irreconcilable  
dilemma, suggesting perhaps a
small gate referred to as the    
'needle's eye' where a camel    
could possibly go through on    
its knees. There's no historical
or archeological support for
such a gate. 
So then, what if he was telling us something we need to hear?

What if someone depends first on their wealth and position for what they need?
What if they turn first to their station and influence for opportunity?
What if they trust first in their country for security and other needs?

If they we can ... and do ... perhaps that's what he was talking about.  
     Perhaps 'having' interferes.
        When you have all the bread you could ever need, can you pray, "give us bread today"?  
             And insulated from the world, would you ever pray, "deliver us"?

"Make me neither rich nor poor," a writer prayed, "but feed me with just enough, lest I become arrogant in wealth or bitter in poverty."

This 'camel and needle' teaching from the early days of Christianity has little impact in this country.  Perhaps it's because he's talking about us, or most of us anyway.  We take for granted that we won't have to walk to the river and carry water home in a jug.  We won't do our laundry and dishes and bathing in that same river.  We won't walk miles to the nearest health clinic and wait for hours.  We won't have to choose between feeding our child or sending him to school.  We perhaps presume our comforts are the norm and that everybody lives that way.  Everybody doesn't, of course.  Most do not.

So, for the rich folks who might read this, have you noticed how hard it is sometimes to take Jesus seriously?  Figured out why yet?

"We all know something's wrong.

At first I thought it was just me. Then I stood before twenty thousand Christian college students and asked, "How many of you have read the New Testament and wondered if we in the church are missing it?" When almost every hand went up, I felt comforted. At least I'm not crazy."   ~Francis Chan

Seven Questions:
  1. The disciples asked, "who then can be saved?"  What does his answer mean? 
  2. Why does Christianity seem irrelevant these days, especially among younger folks? 
  3. How much of western Christianity is the real thing?  What parts?
  4. How far back do you need to step to see things as they really are?
  5. Is there a difference between folks in secular and sacred employment?
  6. What effect does wealth have on relationships? (this is huge!)
  7. If one path would fulfill your calling, what would it be?  (maybe that's the big question.)
If we can hold the thought long enough to truly consider the questions, we're one in a hundred.
If we can hold the thought long enough to do anything differently, we're one in a thousand.
That's a conflict in which we all are engaged.  And for the record, camels are fascinating animals, really.