Sunday, 1 August 2021

The Rich and the Kingdom of God - Luke 18

Jesus is faced with an important person, who asks a great question. They ask 'what must they do to inherit eternal life'. They show the correct understanding that eternal life (and the Kingdom of God) is inherited and not earned - this is good!

Jesus starts with what the person knows - the ten commandments. Curiously though Jesus only lists five of them. The person has kept all these - he can put a big 'tick' in that box, and feels smug about it. Jesus doesn't dispute this, but counters with: 'You still lack one thing - sell your riches, give to the poor, for it is about treasure in heaven'. Jesus then adds: 'Then come, follow me'.

The person doesn't go for that, and instead goes away sad. Jesus comments on how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God - hard, but not impossible! Peter chirps in with how much they have left behind to follow Jesus. Jesus acknowledges this, and notes that kingdom reward certainly comes to those who have put kingdom first.

This story gives another scenario from which we can ask 'What does it tell us about God?' and 'What does it tell us about people?'. We can see that the important person put his riches and wealth above the ultimate lordship of Jesus, and so it is then appropriate for us to ask ourselves what things do we have that become 'substitute gods'? Riches and possessions might be obvious candidates, but how about priority of career, or addiction to social media or other feeds that come via our smart-phones?

As followers of Jesus we continually examine ourselves, and need to set the things of the world in their rightful place under the Lordship of Jesus and following Him.

The partial list of commandments quoted by Jesus reflects this aspect. He omitted the first four which are the 'God first' commandments, and the last one regarding coveting possessions. It is possible that Jesus knew the important person fell short on the covet issue: in saying 'sell and give to the poor' maybe he was highlighting social justice principles that the person had overlooked. Perhaps some of his riches were even accumulated at the expense of the poor - fermenting a life-style that became a substitute god for him.

We too need to remember that our attitude to possessions, our accumulation of wealth, and our sense of the Lordship of Jesus are often inter-linked: it is a spiritual thing! Hence when Jesus says 'Follow me', it is about Lordship and life priorities ...

So again we can ask what does this story tell us we ought to do? And let us not keep that secret, and resolve now who we are going to tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment