Friday, July 10, 2009

Teaching of Jesus regarding materialism just as important today

ustIf there were ever a biblical passage that applies to the United States today, it is the encounter Jesus had with a wealthy young man recorded in Mark 10:17-31.

In this passage, a wealthy young man approached Jesus and asked Him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus reminded him of the commandments, and the young man replied that he had followed them since he was a boy.

However, Jesus looked at him and loved him then told him there was one thing he lacked. Mark 10:21: "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me."

The young man's face fell, and he went away unhappy. Jesus then told his disciples that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Technically, Jesus did not tell the young man what he lacked. However, when He instructed him to sell his possessions, the security he found in his possessions took over, and he went away unhappy. It is clear that the young man was an idolater, and his god was his possessions. The source of his spiritual security was his material items, and he put them first rather than God.

Jesus' statements shocked his disciples. In that day, society interpreted material prosperity as a sign that God looked favorably on a person. However, this was another example of how Jesus took society's norm and turned it on its head. Among other things, Jesus was (and is) a social revolutionary.

This encounter is a prime example of how difficult spiritual commitment can be when it comes to monetary matters. Why was it so difficult for the rich man to leave his possessions behind?

Many times, it can be all too easy to tie feelings of self-worth to the possessions we own. America is a society that embraces the concept of the successful self-made man. Don't get me wrong; it's good to have nice possessions. But when the value we place on those possessions crosses the line and becomes the source of our contentment and peace, then problems arise.

This entire encounter had confused the disciples. Jesus had shattered their long held belief that material prosperity was a sign of God's approval, and this event had left them wondering if anybody could really be saved. Peter needed re-assurance from the Lord.

Jesus reminded him that all believers would receive blessings in the next life that would tower over anything possible in this world.

Our lives will be much better if we can learn to be more and more reliant on this principle. If we can keep an eternal focus, it can help us deal better with the struggles we face day after day.

Certain things try to enchant us. However, trust the Lord for your salvation and source of peace. By doing that, it becomes easier to keep the trials of life in their proper perspective.

Resource material: The Holy Bible; 'Love in Action: The Gospel of Mark' by David C. Cook Church Ministries

1 comment:

Joltin' Django said...

The follower said to Jesus: "How is it that you can walk on water and we cannot?"

He said to them: "What do you think of the dinar and dirham (pieces of money)?"

They answered: "They are precious."

He said: "But to me they are the same as mud."

-- "The Unknown Sayings of Jesus: A treasury of aphorisms, parables, and teachings from early Christian, Jewish, and Islamist sources"