Monday, 16 September 2013

What is Rich?

According to the Forbes Rich list, the richest man is a guy from Mexico, he is 73 years old and has a net worth of 73 billion dollars.  What level of income or net worth do you class people as rich?  I have met some wealthy people and by comparison I do not classed myself as rich. Our family has to work, we have a mortgage, we can't buy anything we like, and sometimes we even need to save for what we need.  So, no, I don't think I am rich.

Perspective

A popular quote says, "If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world. If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy."

Clarity

Mark 10:17  "And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'"
And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth."
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"

I often look at the country I live and the middle-class people that surround me, and I ask myself the question, 'how can I share Jesus with people who don't think they need anything like him?'.  They may think they need a new boat, new house, new spouse, but they don't need a saviour.  "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God."  It is only recently that I even saw myself or those around me as rich or wealthy, I thought we were middle class, that's not rich! Hmmmm, Perspective.

Apart from the fact that we are never content, which I will get to soon, why does our wealth blind us to our true need?  Are we searching constantly for some existence where we will feel secure?  Do we really think a new boat will be the transport to that contented, secure existence, or will it be a new relationship or a new hair-do? I'm not so sure of myself that I can find any answers to these age old questions.  I'm just wondering out loud,  'Why does wealth blind us to our true need?'

Our disconnectedness to our soul and insatiable appetite for more, even when we get more, is an indication of our hearts, longing, searching for peace. We are not content, when we get more we believe we will be happy, then we get more and we think we need just a little bit more, like there is some utopian level of attainment, some nirvana we are striving for.  

Here is an example, somewhat over simplified  but still it works.  We had a toddler and a brand new baby when we decided my husband would go back to studying. We were fortunate enough to live in a house on the farm our family owned, rent free. Our food budget for the week was $100 NZ.  That was a struggle, we didn't eat a whole lot of meat, but we lived well. Once my husband finished studying and we had a regular income, the food budget went up to $120. Initially I thought it was Christmas, and it was great to be able to buy a few little extras.  Then it became a struggle again.  As each pay rise happened, the food budget increased, sometimes by $10, other times $20.  Each time the same thing happened, initially it was a treat, then I would say to myself, 'if only we had a little more'.  

Some, many, Billions even, live on less than $2 a day, and I have  budget of $170 to spend on food for our family of four each week.  I AM RICH. 

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25 NIV.

Epiphany: Stop looking to the extremely wealthy as the rich Jesus identified in this passage, I am that rich young man.

Jesus was not pointing out those on the Forbes Rich List.  He was pointing our you and me.  We are the rich. We live surrounded by the rich. We live in a culture of the rich young man. And most of us have bought into the culture of discontentment, and love of stuff, more.

I have to ask the question, how do I share the wonderful news of Jesus Christ in my community?  How do I share what I know and have and more, with those who have so much, and also with those who don't have enough?

This passage of the Bible raises many questions; 

Am I willing to sell everything I have and give the money to those in need, to follow Jesus? Is the way I live now, truly following Jesus? 

Do I follow the truth of the Bible, all of it, or just the parts that fit into my life? 

Have I fit my faith into a cultural setting, following a westernised Jesus, or do I follow the real Jesus of the Bible? Do I even know there is a difference?

"Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?" (David Platt, Radical, pg 127)

I'm just wondering if reaching our middle class for Jesus, involves giving up our middle class lifestyle and living counter-culturally ... If they, with discontentment and piles of stuff saw us, giving away what we have because Jesus told us to and loving it, wouldn't that be a testimony of faith?  

How do we reach the rich, middle class, who want for nothing yet seek after things to fill that empty void? 

Maybe the answer is us, giving up all they are seeking, and finding our contentment in Jesus. 

Let's rebel against the culture that says we 'have to have' a better house, better car, nicer clothes, a boat, and a holiday home. Not that these things are bad in themselves, it's the 'have to have', the 'need', the void we all attempt to fill with these things that change them from blessing to curse. 

Father, Open our eyes to your truth. Spirit of truth, change our hearts, convict us, move us, that we may impact our middle class culture for you. Thank you Jesus, Amen.

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