Magazine Leader – February 2011

Cash, camels and certainty

It was described as ‘a googly,’ but it wasn’t a bowler helping us to retain
the Ashes. It was a surprise question in Parliament that appeared to hit the
mark. It was a great media moment, but it made me think again about
Jesus’ solemn teaching.
A question was put by a member of the Parliamentary Committee to the
chief executive of Barclays Bank. After a general grilling about city
bonusses and his own bonus came the googly question: why did he think
it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a
rich man to enter the Kingdom of God? The executive fumbled for words
and said he didn’t understand the question. There was a gleeful outburst
over getting an ‘edge’. Or so it seemed.
One-liners are great entertainers, but the quote from the lips of Jesus
made me think about my life choices. The context of the quote was when
Jesus was being quizzed by a man who wanted to know for sure about
having eternal life. Jesus asked whether he faithfully followed God’s
laws. He said yes. But then he was floored when Jesus told him to sell all
he had and give to the poor. ‘When the young man heard this, he went
away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus solemnly told his
followers: “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the
Kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom
of God” (Matthew 19v22-24). Jesus warns us not to idolise wealth. His
words strike at the core of an exclusively materialistic vision – that this
world is all that there is in life, a vision which results in a pursuit of
business profit and personal gain that promotes the idolisation of wealth.
This worldview undermines our two key relationships: towards God and
with others. A material worldview soon becomes the focus of human
loyalty and so breaks the primary command to
give our loyalty to God. It also fosters selfish
accumulation, so that there is the ready acceptance
of reward, but without a recognition of any
responsibility. Jesus calls us to invest first in his
Kingdom, by giving our first loyalty to him and
expressing this through a love of others.
The Kingdom of God is eternal and secure, while the things of this world
are temporary and unreliable. All who throw themselves on God’s mercy
can be sure of being citizens of His Kingdom. We meet as a church to
learn about this life changing reality, so join us to discover more about
the Kingdom whose architect and builder is God.
Paul Kingman
Magazine February 2011