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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 10:23–31

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (NRSV)

This passage from Mark makes me squirm. Conversations about money can be tough enough to begin with, and when we read that it is not the blessing we may think it is, but an impediment to salvation, it is jarring. But I don’t think Jesus is talking about actual cash on hand; he’s speaking of the meaning of discipleship. It is when we value our things, our wealth, and our status above all else that we become the camel. His hyperbole gets our attention so that we can stop and take stock of who and whose we are, and what we are—children.

Children have no status or wealth except through their parents, and it is only by God, our parent, that we are truly blessed. Our real wealth is the wealth of grace, and our inheritance is her kingdom. So basically we are being told to give it all up and place our trust only in God.

We traveled to Cameroon on a mission trip a number of years ago and saw firsthand how those with little could have much. We encountered women who scratched out a living yet who celebrated childbirth and new life; held hands with AIDS patients who gave more than we could ever return to them, telling us they were blessed by our simple presence; and witnessed that poverty was not an impediment to the hospitality of sharing a handful of peanuts at a school for orphaned children. We were greeted with song and heard God praised.

We returned with a new definition of wealth—wealth of spirit: “for God all things are possible.” Money can’t buy that.

Lord, remind me that I am your child, and help me know that trust in you is what makes all things possible. Amen.

Written by Ken Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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