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"Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, 'Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God's kingdom? I'd say it's easier to thread a camel through a needle's eye than get a rich person into God's kingdom.'
"'Then who has any chance at all?' the others asked.
"'No chance at all,' Jesus said, 'if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.'" Luke 18:24-27(The Message).
Jesus' terse comment when the rich man turned away, stirred up some silt in His disciples’ thinking about salvation.
They followed the general understanding of their day, that wealth was evidence of God's favour and blessing; hence a rich person was a natural candidate for 'salvation'. This way of thinking didn't necessarily take into account the way that riches were acquired. Jesus' statement blew a hole in that idea!
Perhaps they also thought, like this young man, that they could work their way into God's favour by earning 'brownie points', keeping the law as best they could.
Unlike any other man-made religion in the world, becoming a disciple of Jesus is not a do-it-yourself or self-help religion. In fact, it is not a religion nor was it ever intended to be. Following Jesus is a partnership based on the choice to believe and accept His forgiveness, and backed by God's powerful response in which He, by His Spirit, brings a person's dead spirit back to life,
"As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins...But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions..." Ephesians 2: 1,4,5 (NIV), and brings about a transfer from slavery to Satan's control by deception into the freedom to believe and trust God because of His son's sacrifice for sin.
This transfer has some pretty surprising results. We are brought from death to life and from darkness to light. "Darkness" refers to our natural disposition towards selfishness and greed; "light" implies a new disposition of God-awareness in place of self-absorption, and generosity towards others in place of self-centredness. From slavery to sin and the devil, we become the sons of God with all the rights and privileges of sonship, brothers and co-heirs with Jesus of everything that belongs to Him by His right of sonship.
Our destiny is instantly changed from the rubbish dump of wasted potential to life in the realm of the eternal God where death is abolished and we rule, in partnership with Jesus, over God's entire recreated order, according to how we served our apprenticeship here on earth.
Now, for those who are willing to take the long look, that's a trade-off even a fool would not want to miss. But what's the catch? Jesus said, 'Money!'
Human beings are so dazzled by money and things that they are completely blind to its transience and vulnerability. Money and possessions only apply to this life. Even if we could line our caskets with dollars or their equivalent, they would stay in the coffin and rot like our physical bodies because they belong to this present order of things and have no value or influence in the life of the spirit.
Looking at it from Jesus' point of view, we realise how impossible it is for anyone to 'achieve' eternal life on his own. No self-help can cure blindness. It has to be a work of God, a rescue, if you will, from the fatal grip of 'things'. But what does it take to get free? An honest recognition of money's snare and a cry for help is where it begins. That's all it takes for God to hear and respond.
It doesn't only have to be money. It can be anything that comes between us and Jesus; addictions, emotions, habits, choices, people, reactions; whatever it is that blinds us to the value of eternal life can be removed by the power of God. All it needs is a 'want to' and an honest confession of need.
And Jesus does the rest!
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