Last week we went to dinner with a couple other families from church. The idea is to break bread with people we don’t know very well and share a bible passage after we eat and then discuss it. Our church does this for 5-6 weeks in a row twice a year. It is a nice way to meet people we might not normally get to know at the church and see them on their “home turf”. It’s held on Friday nights, so it is not a bad way to end the work week either.
The weeks passage was Mark 10:24-25. The passage is a little different, depending on which translation you use, but the gist of the message is that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle then for a wealthy person to get into the kingdom of God (Heaven). This passage bothered me a bit…. Being a well-fed, healthy American that has been well educated and pretty darn lucky in this life.
The other members of our little group discussed Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt- all of whom they felt gave back, trying to help less fortunate people. Then they talked about wealthy people they knew that lived well and had more than their share. We totally avoided talking about us. Were we in a mansion? No, actually we were in a modest condo in an moderately affluent part of the city. We had just had appetizers and wine and a very nice dinner….. we all ate more than we needed and extra’s were put away in heavy duty self-closing Tupperware containers. Dessert, 3 varieties (plus popsicle’s for the kids) were waiting for us when we finished our conversation and digested a bit. The house was warm and the chairs were comfortable. The kids were running around playing X-box and then hide and seek having a good time. In my mind, we were bigger than those camels. And the doorway into Heaven seems mighty small.
I was thinking about the church conference I went to a couple weeks ago. There was a break out session about a church-wide outreach service project. Everyone in the church was invited to do community projects and help out others and improve other people’s lives. I was attracted to the idea and have even followed up with a few emails and conversations at church about doing a similar event in our church. But is that enough? Can anyone with a decent job and a checking account ever get to Heaven?
Another person at the dinner mentioned that Bill Gates planned to give away 90% of his wealth before he died. If Bill Gates gives 90% of everything he has to charity he will still have kept millions for himself and his family to live on. That is still more than most people will ever even see in their lifetimes. Will the door be opened for him? How about the guy that walks away from his family to live on the street and beg for money to buy beer…. Will he get in? He isn’t wealthy. What about the people we know that have a modest amount and share nothing? Or the people with very little and share as much as they can?
That passage is only one line in the bible but makes me wonder what chance any of us have of truly living up to the expectations the message sends. Is anyone doing enough? In my mind I see Heaven as empty as a church on Monday morning.
Luckily, I am a bit of an over-achiever so I read a little further. The next two verses explain that the disciples were a bit shocked to hear this news too. So they asked, “Who can be saved?” Jesus answered… “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible” Whew! That helps….. ☺