Dick Weidner is the founder and CEO of Legacy Ventures, a partner with IBEC Ventures and the Third Path Initiative in www.triventure.com, a startup training, coaching and capital endeavor.
Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures
It is one of the more subjective words in any language. In the U.S. if your annual income for a family of four is less than $ 25,100, you are living in poverty. For billions of people around the world, if you had an annual income equivalent to $25,100 U.S. dollars you would be considered rich.
You might ask, “So, what’s the big deal about how the word ‘rich’ is defined?” According to Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10:25, it is a really big deal. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Why is being rich such an impediment to following Jesus? Part of that answer is in verses 17-20. All the things the man had done did not affect his personal comfort or security. Giving away all he had would eliminate both.
When your life is a daily battle for survival, the call to give up all to follow Jesus offers more gain and less “loss.” It is for this reason that a professor friend of mine at a Christian college anticipates that in the coming age Christianity will be the religion of the poor. As those in the world become richer, the eye of the needle becomes smaller.
What is it about wealth that makes it a monumental impediment to following Jesus? I would suggest it is a combination of the power, recognition, pride, security and comfort that riches provide. It enables us to believe that we truly are the masters of our own domains and have the means to control our circumstances and our fate. In addition, it’s tangible. You can live in your nice house, drive your fancy car, check your bank and brokerage account balances every minute and depend upon your retirement funds for future security.
Christ’s call from the passage is to “Sell all, give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; then come and follow me.” The man’s response: “His face fell, and he walked away from Jesus.” Therein lies the draw and deceit of wealth and riches. We have more faith in them and what they can provide than we do in Jesus and what He promises.
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom for those of us who would be considered rich. Thank God for verses 26-27: The disciples said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “With men this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God.”
Riches used rightly for God’s glory can, and do, enlarge the eye of the needle, so even we overfed Christians can squeeze through. Beware of the lure of possessions, for we do not own them; rather, they own us.
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