WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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THE DANGERS OF PROSPERITY
(How bad do we want Salvation?)
No one ever recognized the perils of prosperity and the desire for material things as clearly as JESUS did. Material things are what attach a person’s heart to this world. The more material things we gain, the more interest we seem to have in the world, and because of that interest, we find it more and more difficult to ever, even momentarily contemplate leaving this material world behind. In fact, it is those things that people have to leave behind that makes it most difficult for them to accept the inevitability of death.
It is said, that, out of a hundred people that can stand “adversity”, only one of that hundred can stand “prosperity”. A person is judged by two standards when it comes to prosperity; one, is how they came about it, and the other, is how they choose to use it. Will we use it as if they have undisputed possession of it? Or, will we remember that we hold it in stewardship to GOD?
With that being said, the question of this life ultimately becomes, “How bad do we want Salvation?” Do we want it bad enough to relinquish the people and things of this world? The rich young ruler here in Mark chapter 10, verses 17-31, as well as many of us, answer that question, in effect, when we say through our behavior, that, “I want it, but I don’t think I want it as much as all that”.
It’s all about “Salvation”, and here in this passage JESUS sums up the whole doctrine of Salvation in a nutshell, when he says in effect, that, “if a person is to depend upon their own efforts, to achieve salvation, then, it is impossible for anyone. Salvation is a gift from GOD, and with GOD, all things are possible. If a person relies upon their own efforts, possessions, or riches, they can never be “saved”. However, if they rely upon the life giving power, and redeeming, “agape love” of CHRIST JESUS, they can enter, “for free”, into the kingdom of Heaven.
That’s the thought that JESUS sought to provoke here in this passage, and that’s the very same thought that Paul, John, and all the New Testament writers wrote about, in all of their biblical literary efforts. And that thought still lingers in the minds of mature Christians today, because it goes to the very core, of the ideology of the Christian Faith.
JESUS states in this passage that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The disciples were astounded when they heard JESUS’ statement. In those days, and even now, a lot of people associate riches as being a sign of how blessed a person is, and, that that person must be walking closer with GOD, especially those rich individuals who are also heavy church goers.
However, JESUS sought to put an end to that kind of foolish thinking that day, as HE and HIS disciples had stopped briefly, just east of the Jordan River, while making the long trip back to Jerusalem for the final time. Here JESUS makes it crystal clear that Salvation is not ours to earn, but rather, it is GOD’s to give away, and we are more likely to accept that gift, if we don’t lose our hearts, to the things of this world.
A person’s heart can only be given to GOD when they manage to tear it away from this world. And unless we give our hearts to GOD, we can never accept HIS gift of Salvation. For, we must come to the end of ourselves, where JESUS is standing and waiting, before we can accept anything that HE has to offer us.
Isn’t it funny how that works? “We have to “give” to “receive”, and we must first surrender, in order to obtain the victorious life that the vicarious sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS earned for us, over the world. What a divine concept that is. And guess WHO thought of it first. GOD!
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander