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Riches and Redemption

January 7, 2007

“It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God’s kingdom.” Mark 10:25 (also in Matthew and Luke).

Why is Jesus making it so hard on rich people? Should this be a sign from God that we as Christians shouldn’t aspire to be rich? Could there be anything behind this story that we don’t see?

This story comes at an interesting time in my life. I have just started my “Million Dollar Plan” where I am aspiring to retire (at the regular age of 65) with no debt and a million dollars. I got a book for Christmas that revolutionized my thinking, and I am going to follow its plan for, at the very least, the first several steps, which is long enough to get out of debt and secure six months worth of savings. These actions alone put me relatively high on the wealthy scale since statistics show that a very high number of individuals are living paycheck to paycheck with no real savings to fall back on when something unexpected comes their way.

This isn’t the first time I have been told that if I play my cards right I could have seven digits to my name (with all those digits being to the left of the decimal), but this book had the most plausible and step-by-step plan that I have come across (even the few strategies that I have heard after reading the book don’t seem to stack up after reading this book’s plan).

So how does this long term goal of accumulating wealth stack up against this dark tale recorded in three of the four gospels. Should I not try to secure a future on earth where I can be financially worry-free? Would my doing this secure my place outside of heaven?

I haven’t thought too long about this, mainly because I don’t feel the issue is about accumulating money. If we as Christians abandoned every aspirations for money then that would leave all the money (with the earthly power that goes with it) to the evil people with their less than godly intentions for it. I feel there is something behind this story that we don’t see when looking at the surface, namely that it is impossible for humans to make it to heaven but that it is even more impossible for rich humans to make it to heaven.

There is no difference. Impossible is impossible, plain and simple. What if this story is one about priorities and not about money? We will never know how Jesus would have followed up, or even if he would have, had the rich young ruler said he would sell everything to follow Him.

The ironic twist to this story is that the people who are going to end up being in heaven are the ones who put others before themselves. They are the ones who are not focused on getting wealth for themselves, but they are focused on getting wealth to help others. The paradox of this is that the “wealthy” would be constantly giving away their money to help their fellow man, which would be like trying to fill up a bucket that has a hole in the bottom.

So how high on my million dollar plan will I get? I don’t know. I do know that most of us could live off of very little income if we had no debt (and even less if we owned a home without a mortgage). Erasing my debt is my primary goal. After that, I can focus my money giving onto the things that matter, instead of giving it to banks to pay them for loaning me money (a.k.a. interest).

I honestly feel that is God’s plan for us. That we live as debt free as possible and use the money we make to help others.

So where do I go from here? How does my plan begin? My first step is changing how I think; changing my focus onto one that is task oriented and not stuff oriented. Once I have oriented myself on the task at hand, then the stuff that isn’t necessary to accomplish it kinda fades away. Suddenly buying that thing or going out to that movie doesn’t seem as appealing, because it is me using my money in ways other than the current task at hand (task 1 for me is to knock off one debt at a time, starting with my car loan).

Hopefully I have inspired someone reading this to modify their thinking. Maybe you have been thinking this for a while? Either way, comment and let all my readers know šŸ™‚

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