Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Impossibility of the Kingdom of God

“18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 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.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 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, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:18-30)
“Through the Eye of A Needle,” I’m reading a book by Peter Brown with this title, examining how the church had to deal with its own wealth in the fourth century when the church started to become extremely rich. The rich man had a hard time leaving his wealth. If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we all have the same problem in one way or another.
The thing is, is that people have a natural tendency to associate wealth with the kingdom of God. It’s a central theme in Max Weber’s influential thesis on the Protestant Work Ethic. Here in Utah it is assumed that the rich Mormons are holier and better than poor Mormons. This has a corollary in the thinking that one was afflicted for sin by being blind. Our sinful nature looks to earthly blessings to determine whether we are blessed from God.
And this is what Jesus is getting at. People assumed the rich had it easier to get into the kingdom of God if they weren’t in it already. Jesus says it is impossible. The disciples reaction to this, was then that it must then be even more impossible for them.
Truth it is impossible for everyone. Only God can bring us into the kingdom of heaven, for he alone is good.

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