i gotta tell you, i don't think i would have liked listening to most of my own sermon this past sunday. in preparing for my sermon on the rich young ruler (matthew 19:16-24), i became super convicted by what jesus was saying to this guy. really, what i was convicted of was the similarity between the the young ruler and our culture.
he was rich. we are rich. and that's the part i don't want to hear.
but no matter how much i don't want to hear it, it's true. and to have some preacher stand up in front and say it...out loud...with no regard for personal struggle or financial stress or awareness of unique situations... with no apparent sensitivity to the fear or worries or depression that people feel when they labor under the relentless burden of financial pounding...well, i'm sure i wouldn't have liked listening to me.
i made reference to a website that points out just how rich we are compared to the rest of the world. and that's the problem. when i live under the crushing weight of finances gone wild, my vision becomes myopic. i can't see beyond my own mess. my financial chaos becomes so demanding, there's no way i can look at others...let alone see how much better off i am. and i definitely don't want some preacher telling me to start admitting how great my life is.
but truth is truth. no matter how bad our financial condition gets, jesus still tells us to measure our lives by the plight of the world's poor. sell your possessions and give to the poor was not jesus' answer to the shortcomings of the welfare system (or was it?). in this passage, he was simply telling the rich (rulers and common folks like you and me) what they needed to do to live underneath the rule and authority of the kingdom.
rich people need to admit they are rich. we need to admit that our wealth...and all the good and bad that comes with our wealth...is the most powerful force in our lives. and we need to recognize that until our addiction to money...and all the chaos and worry and stress and pursuit it demands...is surrendered to kingdom wisdom, there will always be problems. as ironic as it seems, without our wealth, we would not have these problems.
and the best way for rich people to get things straightened out is to remember the poor.
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galatians 2:10