Tag Archives: teachings

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

Today we are looking at the story of Jesus and “the rich young ruler” from the Gospel according to Matthew.

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, 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.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.  —Matthew 19:16-30 NIV  accessed from BibleGateway.com

This is another one of those teachings of Jesus no one wants to hear.  After all we all want to be materially rich, don’t we? Some churches even teach that God wants you to be rich.  Not achieving material wealth may even be seen as a sign of spiritual “failure.”

But what did Jesus have to say about material riches?  He said that it is very difficult to follow him and to enter the Kingdom of God because you have to give up everything.  Not only material wealth and possessions but also earthly relationships and responsibilities. Why? Because these things not only distract us from our relationship and dependence on God, they may even replace it.  When this happens all those other things become our god to be not only sought after but worshiped.

Verse 30 is the clincher in this whole teaching.  “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”  Those who work to claw their way to the top may find that in the end they have nothing spiritually. Likewise those who are poor in the eyes of the world may have amassed great spiritual riches.

This is an area where I believe many churches have been led astray and have led their followers astray.  Throughout the gospels we see Jesus’ disdain of the rich.  Jesus did not teach the “gospel of wealth.”

Dig a Little Deeper:  Following Jesus is costly.  It may require you to give up your money, your possessions, your job, even relationships.  Are you ready to do this?

:) Blessed are the peacemakers

Copyright 2011 by R.O. Robbins

Blessed are the peacemakers,  for they will be called children of God.” 

— Jesus, Matthew 5:9, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com

It seems that many Christians have trouble with the idea of Jesus as a peacemaker and even more trouble with the idea of themselves as peacemakers.  After all what can one person in this world do to stop the violence and pave the way for peace?

The answer to this is simple.  We stop being violent.  We become peace.  We live, breathe and act out of peace.  One person.  One kind loving act.  That is how it is done.  Is it easy?  Of course not.  But is it possible?  Yes, but we cannot look at the whole big picture of violence in the world because it will be overwhelming.

No one can wave a magic wand and make all war and violence stop.  But we can calm the violence and anger within ourselves.  Next, we bring our families, churches, and communities together in peace.  That’s how peace spreads.  One person at a time.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”

 

Dig Deeper:

  How are you making peace in your world?

And That Ain’t Your Sweet Little Baptist Jesus

The above was a favorite saying of John S. Reist Jr. Ph.D, , my theology professor from my seminary days.

When Jesus was asked to read the scripture in the synagogue he ended the reading from Isaiah with the words, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” — Luke 4:21 RSV  So what was fulfilled?

‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 

–  Luke 18-19, Isaiah 61:1-2  RSV

Throughout his life and earthly ministry Jesus tried to teach us how to live, to be our example.  But somehow we totally missed the point.  Some churches even downplay these messages by saying that Jesus was God so it is impossible for us to live as he lived.  No, we must simply say we have “accepted Jesus as our Savior” all our sins will be forgiven then we go back to living the way we want.  We totally ignore the message and worship the messenger.

Jesus was rejected as the Messiah because he was not the political, military leader that was expected to save the Jews and vanquish the tyranny of Rome.  Aren’t we still looking for such a leader?  Doesn’t the recent election in the U.S. show this?  We were created to live in communion with God, but humanity wanted more.  Demanded more.  Over the centuries we have demanded, laws, judges, kings, even presidents.  Earthly leaders to tell us what to do and how to live.  We have forgotten that the law of God is written on our hearts.  We also have the life and teachings of Jesus, the Master Teacher to help show us how to live in this earthly realm.

So this December instead of celebrating the birth of a baby, let’s live the life the teacher taught us to live.  Shine your light for all to see.  Don’t get caught up in the drama created every year by people who want to tell everyone else what and how to celebrate.  This year when someone gives you a holiday greeting you don’t like, instead of getting angry, how about responding with Peace be with You?  We all need peace in our lives and in the world don’t we?