Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God (Luke 18:25, TNIV).
How hard is it to get a camel through the eye of a needle, really? I was reminded of this passage recently as I was mending a rip in one of my good shirts. I was sliding the thread through the needle’s eye, and I wondered if God, in His infinite power, could slide a camel right through the eye of a needle. Could the author of laws and creator of physics defy the laws of physics? I know if the camel parable is relative to our own abilities to bend physics to our will, it would be very difficult for the wealthy to enter God’s Kingdom.
Maybe we could just make some bigger needles. Like for the world’s largest ball of yarn or something. It could be done. The wealthy in this world certainly have the money to make it happen.
Here in America, many of us have more than plenty. But there are places in the world, like much of Africa, where there is almost never enough. I know there are wealthy people in Africa, but take, for example, the front page of a recent major newspaper. It was a large picture of some African children, orphaned by AIDS, who face daily treks in dugout canoes to get their day’s ration of a bowl of wheat (supplied by the United States) and sweet peas (supplied by Canada). How hard is it for those children to enter Heaven; to embrace God’s economy and make it their own?
I understand that it’s got to be hard for some dude who makes millions in his sleep, born into privilege, to give up what he has and pick up a cross. I get that. I like my stuff. I like my car. I thank God for it most of the time. Maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve never had a lot of money. I feel weird when I have a relative abundance of cash. I don’t feel bad, necessarily, but I’m not sure what to do with it. I grew up under the example of someone too selfless to buy anything for herself—always for others. That is a good lesson to learn early on. That’s probably what brought me here today, with the notion that nothing I have or desire, material or abstract, could match your needs in significance. You can have all of me.
So now I’m wondering, how hard was it for me to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? If the rich young ruler wasn’t game for being the poor young disciple, what’s hindering you? What’s hindering me every day? In our economy, we’re loving things that don’t matter, really. Things that do not serve. Hope serves. Faith serves. Love serves. Love has a hard time doing anything else.
Love, by the way, is not a currency. I know people who seem to think it is, and I have learned to refuse payments. I sleep better at night now.
Here’s my conclusion … I’m trying to answer the question of what hinders me every day. I have more time on my hands than I used to, only because I put more effort into creating it. I could, feasibly, spend that time in prayer or in the Word or at the local soup kitchen. Let’s face it. It could be done. I have the resources. I don’t. Here’s my thought process: "I could. If I did that, I bet I’d get really close to God. I’d learn a lot."
Can someone tell me why that is precisely the reason why I will not do these things? It is true that passion is futile without action, and action fruitless without passion. Is it only hard for rich people to get through the eye of a needle, or can those fearful of commitment face the same challenge? Just how big is this needle?