By Alex Florez
I have tried on many occasions to push a camel through the eye of a needle, and it never works. I want to inherit eternal life, but I also want to keep my earth-bound resources intact. Frankly, the very thought of parting ways with the things I possess chafes at my sense of personal value. It is through the lens of my material wealth, after all, that I understand my worth. I’m tempted to believe that how much I own determines my present status, while how much I have to spend helps me forecast all that I will be entitled to later.
But the tension between my desire to abide in Jesus and my preference to be lord of my own resources is due to a basic misunderstanding of wealth: not only where it comes from, but also what I’m expected to do with it once I begin to follow Jesus. All too often, I have approached His throne as if His offer of eternal life depends on whether or not I bring anything of value to the table. This premise is false, and therefore, I would do well to take a lesson from the story of the rich young ruler.
This ambitious yet misguided character in Mark 10 decides that Jesus has asked him to do something impossible (vv.21–22). And you know what? I think he’s right. You cannot truly give away what was never yours to begin with. Ironically, the use of the word “inherit” is a clue to our actual status in God’s family. It is the goodness and mercy of our heavenly Father that secures eternal life for those who follow Him. In other words, we do not “get” eternal life by following Jesus and performing a series of required actions. Rather, we follow Jesus in response to the reality that He has already bequeathed eternal life to us. We become free to share what we have freely received.
“With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). He can do what I could not bring myself to do in my own strength. If we believe our money and assets derive primarily from our own ingenuity and hard work, then we will find it excruciating, if not impossible, to give them up, even if Jesus directly commands us to do so. Instead, we must recognize that everything we possess is a gift from God—every penny and every square inch of property we own. Suddenly, we find ourselves clinging less to our material wealth and more to the hands from which these temporal blessings originate.
Even then, Jesus may not require that I sell everything and give all of it to the poor, but if He does, I believe it will not be impossible, as it is when I try doing it on my own recognizance. In fact, I may finally bear witness as Jesus performs a miracle before my very eyes. I may get to see Him effortlessly push that camel through the eye of a needle.