Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
I spend a lot of time trying to hear from God. I read my Bible each day, have quiet prayer times, worship wholeheartedly, and so forth. So it surprises me when God chooses to speak to me while I am brushing my teeth. The more I think about it though, the more I like it. I think it’s a testament of our relationship. You don’t interrupt a man in the bathroom unless your relationship with him is pretty firmly rooted.
So there I am after work tonight scrubbing my molars with my Oral-B when God flips a light switch on in my head. He suddenly gave me a deeper understanding of a scripture I had read and thought about last week. But before I share what He is teaching me I need to catch you up on what I taught myself.
Two thousand years ago when Jesus was walking around Israel, He was smashing through all these roadblocks that people thought were in their way of getting to God. Now the people who were perceived to be far along that road did not like this because they were in an elite category. There were so many roadblocks to God that not very many people were considered to be close to Him and chosen by Him. Jews believed that if you had any kind of physical handicap it was a product of your sin. They believed that if you did not follow the letter of the law set by Moses and the extra 300+ rules created in addition to the ones Moses delivered, then God would not speak to you. They believed that God controlled all the wealth in the Earth and if you were poor it was because God did not favor you. This last one sheds light on the scriptures I was reading.
One day a very rich man came to Jesus and asked Him what he had to do to be saved. Jesus told him the answer that applied to everyone who was listening, then Jesus told him the answer that applied to just him. He told him, “Go and sell everything you have. Give it to the poor and come follow me.” The Bible says that the man went away very sad because he had many possessions. It’s at this point that Jesus turns to the crowd and utters the famous phrase that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. The crowd stood in disbelief. If richness was a sign of God’s favor and it was hard for rich men to make it to heaven then who could be saved? Jesus was trying to teach the people that God does not favor men who love their money more than God. Once I learned all this I thought I understood the situation completely. Then a week later I went to brush my teeth.
Standing in front of my mirror God gave me a glimpse of what the rich man felt and his sadness was motivated by something totally different than I expected. In that man’s culture his wealth automatically gave him great influence and respect much like our culture today, but he received something that our culture does not attribute to the wealthy. People assumed that he was close to God. His riches were a symbol of spiritual condition to a people who believed that wealth was a sign of being one of God’s chosen few. I don’t think he was sad because he found happiness in all his stuff. Rich people will be the first to tell you that the things they buy can’t sustain their happiness. I think he was sad because he did not want to lose his spiritual place in the minds of everyone who knew him.
This is what God is teaching me. It is very popular these days to use the quote from Gandhi that says, “Be the change you want to see in the world”, but there are very few people actually being the change. We like to go to church so that people will see us and think we are faithful to God, but we don’t like to wake up early on our Saturday and go help the poor. We find ways to help our friends judge our walk with God based on what they see. If we are not careful we can begin to attend church, or raise our hands in worship, or even preach to assure people that we are one of God’s chosen few. God knows what we love more than following Him and He WILL ask us to give it up. God wants to have a close relationship with me whether people know it or not. When we become more concerned with people believing we are close to God than actually being close to God, then we have become Pharisees. When God showed me this I really began to check my motivation on everything I do. And I asked myself if I truly love God the way people think I do based on everything I don’t do. What I found out was that I have some work to do, but I know that now I can work on it caring only what Jesus thinks.