If we ever wish to come face-to-face with where our day-in, day-out lives demonstrate how far we are from the kingdom of God, we can do no better than listening to what Jesus has to say about money. If we were shocked by the particular demand Jesus laid on the rich man to sell his possessions, we will find ourselves even more troubled when Jesus turns the earlier story into a general principle.

In the twenty-first century, we are all embedded in a worldly kingdom whose standard of justice is not equality or democracy or liberty but the acquisition of wealth. From a young age we are formed to be wealth producers or, more importantly, consumers who produce wealth for others. Ours is a world, across numerous cultures, that strives above all else to show signs of wealth (even if what these signs truly signal is crippling debt). We strive for good-paying jobs, for high-paying opportunities out of college. We appoint people to church leadership who have attained these ends that we hold most dear.

Each act of complicity in the belief system of capitalism is a potential denial of the kingdom of God. Defensively we reinterpret Jesus’ words. Surely he can’t mean us! Surely those of us who live in cities with hundreds of churches can’t be the least likely to inherit the kingdom! Surely our success within the system we were born into signals God’s great favor!

But Jesus keeps repeating: It is hard for the wealthy to enter God’s reign. You could more easily cram a camel through a needle’s eye than cram one person of wealth through the gates of God’s kingdom. Our only hope lies in God’s overcoming this impossibility through God’s gift of grace.

God, we have worshiped before the gods of wealth that have promised us life. Free us from the chains that bind us, that we will know the true wealth that pours out from your holy presence. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 10:17-31

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Lectionary Week
October 4–10, 2021
Scripture Overview

Faithful people still have questions for God. Job wishes he could sit down with God and plead his case because he wants God to justify what has happened to him. The psalmist also feels abandoned by God and wonders why God is not coming to his aid. God can handle our questions. Job wanted an advocate, and Hebrews says that Jesus now fills that role for us. He is our great high priest and understands our sufferings, so we may boldly approach him for help. In Mark, Jesus deals with the challenge of money. It is a powerful force and can come between us and God if we cling to our resources instead of holding them loosely with thanksgiving for God’s provision.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Job 23:1-9, 16-17. When have you, like Eliphaz, attributed your own suffering or that of others to wickedness on your part or on theirs? How often do you find yourself blaming others for the situations in which they find themselves?
Read Psalm 22:1-15. How could your prayer life be more honest and transparent? What feelings do you hold back?
Read Hebrews 4:12-16. When God shines the spotlight on your soul, what does God see?
Read Mark 10:17-31. How do you square your “wealthy” life with Jesus’ call to discipleship?

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