Read Mark 10:17-30
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23-25)
“When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious, trustworthy and prosperous. Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can, does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man!” ― John Wesley
When I first read the sharp warnings of Jesus about riches the first time, I got up from my desk, ran over to Mom and desperately, half out of breath, asked her repeatedly, “Are we rich, Mom, are we rich?” She assured me that we had nothing to worry about as far as that goes.
The story of the wealthy man who goes away grieving rather than letting go of his possessions and following Jesus can teach us something no matter how rich we are. We may be hiding behind any number of things…the security of our wealth, our position in the community, our insistence that we aren’t good enough, that we can’t possibly meet the demands of the Gospel. Many things can prevent us from coming out of hiding — our fear that the punishment might be too great; images of God as only angry ruler bent on revenge; ideas that forgiveness is all well and good, but can’t possible meet me where I am.
The good news is that in Christ, God comes to us where we are. In Christ, we are found no matter how much or how little we own. We are loved not because of what we own, but in spite of it.
Read Genesis 2,3
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2.16-17)
“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.” ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.
When I was a boy, my Grandmother used to read me a Bible story book, complete with color pictures. I remember the Garden of Eden. The rich greens. The bright red of the apple. The glaring stare of the serpent. I would eagerly pluck the book off the shelf and quiet my heart to hear God’s Word in the voice of my grandmother.
Adam and Eve had it made. God had made them for each other. They were living in a beautiful garden with plenty of good food to eat. They were at peace with themselves, with their world and with God. They had everything. What could possible go wrong?
And then, the serpent. The most subtle and beguiling of all God’s creatures. The serpent entices Adam and Eve to disobey God. This act of disobedience severs their relationship with God. And this separation from God is passed one from one generation to the next.
The taste of original sin is on our lips. How can we wash it out? The first step toward knowing that we depend on God in Jesus Christ. The faithfulness of Jesus reverses the bitter curse we have inherited.
Adam and Eve were in a lush garden paradise. Christ was in the wilderness. Adam and Eve had all they could ever want to eat. Christ had fasted forty days and was very hungry. Adam and Eve gave into temptation and ate of the fruit. Christ resisted, and remained in communion with God.
Jesus Christ leads us home to the plush garden paradise God created for us. This is more than a children’s fairy tale. It is the Truth the leads us along the Way to Life.
“Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13.1)
As I write this, my Grandma McPeak’s life in this world is coming to a close. Having lived with faith in Christ, she knows that death is not the end. Soon, she will be fully embraced in the loving arms of her Savior forever.
How do we face the aging, the dying, the death of loved ones? Jesus shows us the best way. Never stop caring. Never stop serving. Never stop loving.
My uncle Geoff is the one I look to, the one we all look to, to show us how to love “to the end.” Geoff devoted his life to care for her, to make sure her last years had purpose, joy, and comfort. Geoff made it possible for Grandma to stay home where she was queen of the castle, the queen mother, queen grandmother,…
Geoff saw that Grandma had care providers like Gladys who not only met her physical needs, but became like beloved family. Gladys, you helped Grandma immeasurably by listening to her stories, keeping her house clean, and baking her sweets. Especially baking her sweets.
Grandma McPeak, thank you for your life, your love, your smile, your faith. Especially your faith.