Friday, July 17, 2009

Entering the Kingdom

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:23 NIV)

Take a moment right now and ask yourself if you are rich? Most of us would say no. Most of us might even say by the end of the month, we have more month than money. Unfortunately that’s a fact that is all too common.

But does that indicate that we are poor? Does it indicate that opportunity and the American Dream have slipped through our grasp? Hardly.

About 4 years ago, my wife and I decided to live like no one else, so that someday we could live like no one else (thanks Dave Ramsey). Amazingly enough, little changed in our income streams, but a whole lot changed with our debt ratio.

By determining that we would become debt free (except for our home mortgage)… and that we would continue to live that way… so that someday we would indeed pay off our home mortgage early and retire free and clear… with money in the bank… all on a modest income derived from two self-employment income streams… that goal is coming to pass. All our debts, to include all credit cards, two automobile notes and home equity loan have all been paid off in full. Now cash has become our greatest asset. Not our excellent credit rating.

Why do I bring up the subject of my old thinking versus my new thinking on debt and finances? Because we as American Christians may be fooling ourselves into thinking we have access to the Kingdom of God. Yeah that’s brazen and problematic for many of you readers (the 2 that are out there), but I would contend that because of our lust for stuff and the two lies we believe, we who are rich are actually keeping ourselves from knowing God and letting Him know us.

Let me expound just a bit. Jesus tells us that it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God (yet with God all things are possible). My contention is that ALL of us here in America are rich, despite how little cash we think we have. If we could understand that by the very lust of our flesh, the pride of life and the lust of our eyes, we may well have shackled ourselves to a destiny far less than God has ordained.

The two lies we believe are “you’re not good enough” and “if you buy this you’ll become good enough”. Madison Avenue has us by the glands and those two lies simply keep us running in circles trying to keep up.

So here’s the rub, we’re all rich, but because we believe the lies, we continue to amass vast amounts of stuff and usually debt goes with it. And as we do, our priorities get all messed up and our ability to do what the rich should do, gets mired down in feigning poverty. All the while we’re so far from being poor it’s pathetic.

Imagine what life would be like with zero debt? Imagine being content as well as being godly? Might I say that the only rich people going to heaven are those who have their priorities in order? I just did.

Most of the people that I know who lament their financial situation simply have too much debt. Whether its consumer debt or they’ve over bought on a mortgage (because they couldn’t imagine living in a home whose square footage is under 2000) or they are too ashamed to have rust on their quarter panels or worst of all they don’t know how to say “no” to themselves or their children. Regardless of the specific reason, debt is killing us, nationally and personally.

The way that it’s killing us is by causing we who are rich, to think we are poor. And because we think we are poor, we think God should feel sorry for us and benevolently step in and offer us some sort of divine bankruptcy opportunity or at least a stimulus package, all the while we are rich, but we’ve simply over spent.

Does Laodicea ring a bell? Maybe we should acknowledge that our wealth has gotten us into trouble and we need to get back to the most important things in life and eternity – loving God and loving each other.

Then maybe, just maybe we will be assured of Entering the Kingdom.

Now go and ask yourself if your debt has affected how you live for Jesus? Are you giving like you should? Are you serving like you should? Or are you consumed with servicing the lust behind your debt?

It’s worth looking into.

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