Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who wants to Be a Millionaire? Not Me!!

There are a lot of people out there who want wealth, power, and pleasure.  I mean the thought of it sounds great to me at first!

I could spend hours of time fantasizing about how I would spend a million
dollars. People ask each other all the time, "What would you do if you had a million dollars?"
In the Bible there was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus. Matthew 19:13-26 , Mark 10:17-29 and Luke 18:18-29

I mean this guy had it all. He is young, (good start) rich (very comfortable and happy) and a ruler (admired, important, esteemed, powerful). In the account, this man comes to Jesus with a big question, the biggest question. He wants eternal life, he wants a security that money and power cannot buy. He is looking to the good Rabbi, teacher, to help him in this quest. Yet Jesus first responds to him with a definition of "good", stating only God is good. He follows up with a partial list of the 10 commandments from the Mosaic Law. (Also referred to as the Decalogue)

If we can trust this young ruler`s own assesment of himself he is a pretty good guy. Though most of us and many scholars find it very hard to believe as such.

Yet he asks Jesus this amazingly profound question even though he has seemingly been very good all his life. He asks, "what am I still lacking?"
Good question!

I honestly believe this man wants to know the secret, it says in Mark that he fell to his knees before Jesus.

Yet, here Jesus crushes the young man with a harsh reality.  "Go and sell your posessions and give them to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me."

It sounds harsh at first but I hear the voice of Jesus in this passage kindly pleading with this ruler. Jesus basically told the man stop being fulfilled with your life of luxury. In fact you give it up now, there will be treasure in heaven waiting for you. You really won`t lose anything. He then extends the invitation to follow Him.

Yet the curse of wealth could not be undone.

"But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved because he had much wealth and owned much property." (combined accounts Luke and Matthew)

What is it about wealth and power that keeps us from following Christ?

Having our needs met, even unto excess can easily give us a fasle sense of righteousness.
This ruler has probably never wanted in his life, has never stolen a loaf of bread to feed his family. Perhaps whose virtue has never been tested can easily think of himself as a "good" person.

Being good is easy when you have everything you need. Morality can easily be afforded by those in positions of wealth and power, yet when their finances or power is threatened they will do great evil and sin much to keep it. Just look at what has happened with America and the Wall Street buy out. Perhaps this rich young ruler too had a dark side?

Following Jesus is how true righteousness is developed, that is why Jesus told the ruler to come and follow Him. It is not merely knowing the WHAT of the question, how do I get eternal life?, but the WHO!

Eternal life is found in development not achievement. We cannot achieve life, it is something that grows within us and the source is the Spirit of God and obedience to His word. We did not earn our right to be born and live physically it was bestowed upon us. In the same way knowing Jesus is the secret of eternal life which is a gift. Revelation 22:17

So what does Jesus comment about the situation of this ruler to His disciples?

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle." So it is impossible!

The disciples were "astounded" it says in the Scripture!
This ruler was a really good guy (supposedly) and isn`t wealth a sign of God`s blessing?? (a concept widely common in Jewish tradition and supported by many verses from the Old Testament)

But Jesus quickly reinstates His disciples` hope by giving the classic Sunday School motivational verse, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Think about the many rich young rulers we see in our world today, those on Wall Street, in government, CEOs and the lottery winners and the like. The words of Christ give warning of the danger of riches.

"What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul" Matthew 16:26

James writes some pretty harsh words to rich oppressors in Chapter 5 of his epistle

"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent, who were not opposing you. "

There are many more verses in the Bible, especially the New Testament that speak against greed and the lure of riches.

So the question again is "Would you want to be a millionaire?" My answer is "Not if it meant the forfeiting of my soul and corruption of my heart." Which would probably be the case!

And without God in my life, I would be a big fat camel trying to squeeze into a very tiny hole.