“Truly I say to you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” (Matthew 19:23-25)
Walking with Jesus was remotely similar to being on a team with a storied football coach, the kind they name stadiums after, the kind that are found at the gate as a larger-than-life bronze statue.
You think you’re on the same page with him. You think you’re on his good side. Until you say something. What’s worse is when you smirk at his play call.
Here Jesus gives us a window in on this business of how difficult it is for the rich to be saved, without slamming his visor to the ground.
In theory it’s hard for those rich in this life to feel the need for a savior. Everything gets solved with a reach for The Card. But what about Zacchaeus? He felt it. And Matthew? I guess he did too. So it is possible with God.
Besides, you can have all the world has to give and still be wretchedly miserable inside.
Then Peter responded and said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” (Matthew 19:27)
On the other hand, is everyone required to leave everything to follow Jesus? That’s not the norm, but we all know some who have. In your inner conversation with the Lord there will or should be a time when you’re willing to leave it all (whatever that might be) and follow him. He knows when you’re serious and it’s duly noted.
I was at that point one year into marriage. I wanted to head off to seminary and then work in some productive way in a church or Christian organization. We had made plans and were well down the road. Told the parents and everything. Then on a Sunday afternoon, the associate pastor of our church came over for lunch at the parents-in-law’s home.
By the way, this was no normal “associate pastor.” He was 80 years old and possessed a ThD from Dallas Seminary. He pastored Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina for 10 years, prior to being called to preach at his alma mater, Wheaton College. I think I heard him say he bounced Billy Graham on his knee in the church nursery, and the Grahams did attend Calvary. He also made frequent trips abroad to minister, and pastored churches in Haiti and Naples, Italy. He was on his way to Haiti again when he fell ill and died at 84.
After the meal, he struck up a conversation with my wife and me. “They say you want to move to Dallas and go to seminary, with hopes of doing Christian work,” he said.
I replied, “Yes sir.”
He said, flatly, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Everything you want to do you can do in the local church.” I was floored, but to me he was on par with any of the so-called “major” prophets. So that was the end of that.
And he was 100% correct. we managed to get our hands into everything we ever envisioned doing, and then some, in the local church.
Truth is, most are not called to traipse all over Asia Minor and parts beyond with barely a suitcase. Our callings are all different. What he wants is the willingness.
Simply, He wants our hearts. He wants our hands.
We’ll find out in the end who were the standouts and they will surprise us. But the important thing is we all receive honorable mention.