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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Count the Cost

We are Americans. Even the poorest of us has more than the majority of the world. A family of of five living at the poverty line in the U.S. is actually "the 1%" compared to the rest of the world. "Poor" is relative, and Americans -- even the "less wealthy" -- are rich.

That's why it's so tough for me to read about the rich young ruler. A seemingly sincere young man with money asked Jesus, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 18:18). Good question! Good attitude! And you're asking the very best Person! This is great! But it wasn't. Jesus asked for perfection (Luke 18:19-20) and then pointed out his single most difficult problem -- wealth. "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" Luke 18:22). "Yeah, we hear You, Jesus," we say. "'Come, follow Me.' We got it. We'll do that. Hmmm? What's that? Nope, I didn't hear anything about too much wealth."

My all-time most-viewed entry for this blog is from 2006 on the topic of "Sell all your possessions." It's what we do. Dodge it. Jesus did not mean "Sell all your possessions," right? No, of course not. But ... and then we dodge it. We play the game. "If He didn't actually mean that Christians must own absolutely nothing, then He must have meant we don't have to do anything at all about our wealth." What kind of logic is that? Bad logic.

Jesus did not make "own nothing at all" a prerequisite to salvation despite what skeptics (anti-theist and Christian alike) claim. What we must face is that because of our wealth as American Christians, we're using that fact to suggest that Jesus said nothing at all. We are relying on our wealth to keep us safe and happy. We trust our funds to supply our needs. We promise God everything, but keep our bank accounts, televisions, and comfortable lives from the potential chopping block. Brothers, these things ought not be.

Wealth isn't a sin. Idolatrous wealth is. Who is it that we're supposed to count on to keep us safe and happy, to supply our needs? It's not that stuff. When we do, it's idolatry and we American Christians sin. I struggle with this. I suspect I'm not alone.


Bob said...

so if i understand you correctly; the problem is not the money, it's the thing we depend on the most... the reason that i think that you have something here is that i have never been rich by american standards. i was quite poor when i was a child. but even poor people become idolaters. the end of every month just count the amount of money spent on lottery tickets by poor people, it is astounding. i just finished reading John. little children keep your selves from idols. don't depend upon anything other than Chris.

Stan said...

Christ, not "Chris" ... right? :)

Bob said...

when you know him for as long as i have he goes by Chris..
but you wouldn't know that because he likes me best..