A popular saying in the 1980s was "He who dies with the most toys wins." The quote is attributed to flamboyant millionaire Malcolm Forbes.
In stark contrast to the advice of Mr. Forbes I recall as a kid in Sunday School learning the story in Mt 19:16-26 where after the dejected rich young ruler leaves Jesus he tells his disciples "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven."
This was GOOD NEWS for my lower middle classed family and BAD NEWS for those 'blessed with bucks' living on the other side of the tracks. AND.. It was clear even to my elementary school understanding of physics no big ol' hairy desert beast of burden will pass through an eye of any needle.
I later learned the 'eye of the needle' Jesus was referring to was a small gate in Jerusalem a camel could only pass through if it stooped and had its baggage removed. This is a great analogy of wealth which can be a great blessing and resource for self and others in this life, but.. "you can't take it with you." .
So clearly the smirky advice of 'Rich Man' Malcom Forbes (even if true) pales in comparison to 'Poor Man' Jesus words of eternal perspective.
But as a relatively poor man I find myself strangely affected by many of the same issues of the Rich Young Ruler.
Mt 19: 16-22 (my paraphrased conversation with Jesus)I
Jeff: Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?
Jesus: keep the commandments.. don't murder Jeff: CHECK
Jesus: don't commit adultery Jeff: CHECK
Jesus: don't steal Jeff: CHECK,
Jesus: tell the truth Jeff: CHECK
Jesus: honor father and mother Jeff: CHECK
Jesus: and love your neighbor as yourself Jeff: CHECK.
Jeff: So far so good..
Then Jesus says "Give yourself totally to me, trust me when life is good and when it is difficult, then follow me."
Then when I heard this I become sad because my faith, my commitment to prayer and time in the word, and reliance on God in good and bad is too often not what is should be in fact my life was too often simply about ..
Ok, good news I plan to not walk away from Jesus instructions. I prayerfully desire to pursue God with my time, my heart, and to be a witness in words and deeds. When I fall, when I fail, and/or when circumstances have me in life's valley I will prayerfully trust in him.
To all of you rich and poor folk may God find you faithful in the lives you live and the resources you are blessed with. May we all be about the business of sharing Jesus to a world that is lost. One body, many parts.. God bless y'all!
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson