Today's Lectionary Text
Mark 10:25It 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.”
There’s a trick to threading a needle. You work the thread into a loop, and it’s much easier to guide through that tiny hole. Let’s call it a loophole.
But when Jesus talks about a camel not passing through the eye of a needle, I don’t see one. A loophole, that is.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to squirm around this. What does he mean when he says “rich”? Like Warren Buffet rich? Like 1% rich? Like 1st world, disposable income rich? If it’s that last one, I may be in trouble.
Of all the things Jesus talks about, this may top the list. He talks a lot about money. And this passage, found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, is one of the toughest. What do you do with this kind of absolute statement? Do you deflect it, saying it doesn’t apply to you? Do you cower in your guilt? Do you turn the page and ignore it?
Or maybe you’re like me. I try to find a loophole. I try to find the trick that helps me get my wealth through that needle.
Here’s one: I give some of it away. My money, I mean. I contribute to my church every month. I give an extra dollar at the check out line for whatever charity they’re collecting for. Does this let me take the rest with me? Is this my loophole?
Here’s another one: I’m a good faithful Christian. Pretty good, anyway. I’m a pastor. I frequently pray in public. (And occasionally, in private.) I do weddings and funerals. I bless babies. Is this my loophole?
Okay, one last shot: I agree. I can clearly see the problem. I understand how much wealth can mess up a person’s life. I want people to know that idolatry of money is one of the greatest sins there is. Heck, I’ve even written this very devotion about it! Is this my loophole?
Nope. The truth is, there’s no loop-hole when it comes to being rich. This isn’t like finding the trick to threading a needle. It’s trying to force something where it doesn’t belong. You can’t force an over-abundance of money into the Kingdom. It doesn’t work. Greed and generosity don’t fit together.
That’s the point, isn’t it? That’s what Jesus is reminding us, that this simple truth is a stumbling block for most of us from time to time. Want to stop stumbling? Do some “thread assessment” instead.
Make generosity one of the predominant threads that runs through your life. Don’t let the things you own own you. Enjoy the good things in life, and continually reassess what those good things are. Shake loose the possessions that get in the way. Make the trajectory of your life towards gratitude and giving. Make that your priority.
That’s it, I think. No loophole needed, just a paradigm shift from being rich on earth to being rich in the Kingdom.
Don’t let yourself become stuck by the needle analogy. Use it. Go ahead and stare through the eye of a needle from time to time, just to remember what a challenge it is to be truly generous. Then, take a look at your beast of burden of a life, weighed down with all your riches. Remember that you can’t take it with you. Ask yourself why you would even want to.
Oh, and say a prayer that unladen camels may still be allowed in the Kingdom…
even if only the very very tiny ones.
-Rev. Mitch Todd
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