Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Luke 18: Enjoying the Best of Both Worlds.

http://www.ellenwhite.info/images/chapt-illus/EW/RH-RichYoungRuler_DSC_0098.jpgLuke 18:18-30  And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'" And he said, "All these I have kept from my youth." When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."  But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.  Jesus, looking at him with sadness, said, "How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."  Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" But he said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."  And Peter said, "See, we have left our homes and followed you." And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,  who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life."

Can Christians enjoy the best of both worlds? To be rich in this world and also to be rich in the world to come. Why did Jesus ask the rich ruler to choose between his worldly wealth and the kingdom of God? Does Jesus (or God) have something against the rich or against capitalism? Was Jesus a socialist? Even the apostles were surprised: "Then who can be saved?" Jesus' answer tells us that it's not earthly wealth that is the issue here--but the ruler's love for wealth against his love for God.

Jesus saw that the young ruler did not lack the moral zeal to keep the Ten Commandments: "All these (commandments) I have kept since I was a boy" (v.21). He had no problem with moral integrity: he had never committed adultery, never murdered, never stolen, never lied, and never dishonored his parents. Outwardly, he was spotless. But inwardly, he had a heart problem: the problem of love. He loved his money more than he loved God. When Jesus told him to "sell everything you have and give it to the poor," he balked at Jesus' command--and sadly walked away.

Was Jesus against having wealth and being rich in this world? Not really, otherwise he would not have told the disciples: "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life." So, Christians can enjoy the best of both worlds--provided they are willing to put God's kingdom and righteousness FIRST and everything else SECOND. The younger ruler had a reversed priority: he put his wealth above God's kingdom and that disqualified himself from the kingdom of God.

Repentance is more about love than about sin. A person repents from love of self and the world in order to love God above everything else. St. Augustine has been quoted as saying: "Love God and do as you please." Of course, the implication is that if we put love for God first, it is unlikely we will do as we please, but as He pleases.

Father, thank You that You have created us to love You above everything else. When we do that, we get to enjoy the best of both worlds. Amen.

I was reading this book,

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