From Reverend Pat Kriss: What is Required to Follow Jesus?
(Posted Oct. 13, 2018)
I have to be candid. Some of the nicest, most thoughtful people I’ve ever known have been what we would call “rich people.” After a long pre-pastoral career as a non-profit fund raiser, I’ve known my share of individuals who are unfailingly generous and aware that they are blessed.
In this week’s Gospel, however, we find ourselves brought up short by Jesus’ remarks to a rich young man about what it would take for him to earn salvation. He tells the young man that, in order to follow him, he must sell everything he has to join him. The young man leaves, grieving in a way. Jesus said to the disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! … Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
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Services begin at 10 a.m. All are welcome.
What are we to make of this? Does Jesus really think that a wealthy person has to strip his or her life bare of material things? Most of us don’t have to worry about being extremely wealthy. But hopefully you are as perplexed by this statement as the rest of us.
The truth of the matter is, Jesus is not saying that drastic measures must be taken to be “saved.” Instead, Jesus was making it clear to the young man the truth in following Jesus is not our material goods, but our attitude toward material wealth and the importance we place upon our good fortune. There are plenty of rich people who understand, who get the concept that they have been blessed, and who in turn use their fortune to assist others who are not so fortunate. To these belongs the Kingdom of heaven. These are “the camels” that have made themselves small and not brimming with human pride, in order to fit within the eye of the needle. There is a fascinating Jamaican-born young artist from Britain – Willard Wigan-- who, upon reading of the eye of the needle, created the camels already fitting within a tiny needle, not just as a sole animal, but as a caravan. Humility lets us let go of defining ourselves by what we own in favor of what we do for God. I’ve shared a picture of his incredible miniature sculpture here.
On this upcoming Jazz Sunday we pause to think about it all. What is required of us to follow Jesus? What does it mean to be asked to make a sacrifice to follow him? Come join us at 10 a.m. to spend some time, to listen to uplifting music, and to enjoy the presence of people who welcome you to rest a while. - Pastor Pat Kriss