Confessions of a Questioning Christian

Posts Tagged ‘rich

Matthew 19 

Teaching About Divorce

1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a] 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

I feel like a lot is going over my head right here. For one thing, it doesn’t really seem like they want to dig into the issue of divorce as much as they are trying to trap Jesus or prove somehow that he doesn’t understand anything. But either way, we are taught them as if they were specific commandments, as opposed to a sharp answer to a snarky question.

People seem to always be using these verses to trap people. If it’s not prove that divorce is always wrong, it’s to find a loop-hole out of marriage. Here it seems Jesus would only allow for sexual immorality to come between a man and wife and bring about a permanent end to their marriage. But what about physical abuse? Is that because at the time a woman was considered property? And what’s all this business at the end about the eunuchs?

I read this article about this portion of Matthew 19. If you are interested, I’d highly suggest it. To be honest, I only skimmed it (therefore, there might be parts that I don’t actually agree with/endorse), but my favorite part is that it shows that Jesus was an expert in the law, even though it seems he never sat down and had a thorough education as the rest of the pharisees must have. They kept trying to give Jesus these hard trick questions that only an expert would understand, but he always does, AND he shoes that they are missing the point again and again. My point: if Jesus was a real person, and he knew all this stuff, it’s really a miracle in itself how SMART and EDUCATED he was.

Let the Children Come to Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

1) Why were they bringing children to him? What was the goal here? and 2) Why were the disciples so pissed about it?

The Rich Young Man

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world,[b] when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold[c] and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Eat it, Prosperity Gospel. Even I know that I hang on to way too many physical possessions. Some of them are out of comfort (like a home, a couch, necessary clothes), some out of personal attachment (my dog, memorabilia, photographs, gifts), and some out of sheer luxury (most of my clothes, electronics, beauty products, probably at least 70% of my possessions). So suck on this section of Red-Letters, anyone who thinks that money is proof of your amount of Christianity. I don’t think that being rich is inherently bad, but I do hate any theology that says that “faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one’s material wealth.” (from Wikipedia’s definition)

I also want to point out that while we Christians always say that we only have to believe in Jesus to be saved (and of course, our lives ought to reflect that belief), Jesus says right here that if you aren’t willing to give up your things, you shouldn’t expect to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. That means that basically everyone I know (including myself) isn’t going to heaven OR that this Kingdom of Heaven isn’t exactly the Eternal Jesus-ized Disneyland we’ve all been forming in our mind.

Lingering Questions:

  • What’s the deal with the eunuchs?
  • Can someone explain the part about the children? Why were they brought to him at all and what did he do to them and why were the disciples mad about it?
  • What did Jesus REALLY MEAN about “Kingdom of Heaven?” I don’t want the Sunday School answer. I want a cultural, historical, reasonable, logical answer. PLEASE!
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Matthew 6

Posted on: February 4, 2012

Giving to the needy – kind of one of the cornerstones of loving neighbors and enemies as ourselves, right? I think he was also taking a jab at the uber-religious, too.

Matthew 6:5-8 gave me such a serious complex when I was growing up. I always wanted to make sure I was wording my prayers right, but not being too wordy (like the Gentile I am), in case someone thought I was showing off. I still worry sometimes that I’m just rambling – and I also wonder pretty often if what I’m saying makes God roll his eyes. “Dear God, please help me not get a cold sore.” “Dear God, please help me make the right decision.” “Dear God, what should I do next in my life?” Does God deal with all of our prayer requests? We grew up hearing that God says, “Yes,” “No,” or “Not now.” But I tend to think now that God says, “Hey, I care about you, but I’m not going to interfere with your life (for the most part). I want to see what decisions you choose to make, and how you handle the success or consequences.” But that is totally a guess – I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure how God does anything. That’s just how life has felt. I’ve asked for things and received them, and sometimes it has felt divine but most of the time it just feels logical or lucky or normal. And sometimes I asked for things and didn’t get them, and it turned out that it was a literal God-send that I didn’t get them after all.

I went to a (non-Southern) Baptist church growing up. I loved (and still do) my church family at that church. They really were a family to me. They brought me up well, I think, and I’m so thankful for so much. I remember memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, but never really being asked to use it. However, it’s such a concise prayer, and it covers all the bases without getting caught up in the perfect words.

I’ve actually never fasted for Christian reasons. I have fasted for Ramadan, though. I’ve always found Christian/Catholic forms of fasting fairly anemic. Oh, you’re giving up candy? Boohoo. Try giving up anything in your mouth – even water or gum – from sun up to sun down. See if you don’t start to really understand what fasting is about.

If you haven’t noticed, I am not a fan of the Prosperity Gospel. How is it even biblical? It seems about as far from Jesus’ words as you can get. Don’t store up treasures on earth – because that’s all you’re going to care about. And you’re not supposed to care about things, or yourself, but others and God. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be selfish. Boom.

But then again, it’s hard. How much is too much? Should we all be bug-eating nomads like John? Should we give up absolutely everything? A house? A car? It probably depends on the person. At what point do you start adding things to your “I Want” list before you start thinking and acting on helping others meet their basic needs? I guess it’s a personal matter, but I’ve rarely been in the position where I’m doing that, and I’m not even well to do.

 

Compared to giving up material goods, not being anxious  is so much harder. I’ve had people whose mouths spoke all about Jesus and what was going on in their lives because of him, but their anxieties dictated all of their actions. I’ve been the same way on occasion. Thankfully, anxiety isn’t something that has really bothered me. But that’s because as long as you really do have faith in God, nothing should really bother you too much, right? At least, the way I see it is, the worst that can happen in any situation is… you die? And that’s probably not going to happen most of the time you make a decision. As long as you’re still alive, you still have options.

That’s kind of morbid, though.

Lingering Questions:

  • Loving money – do you have to give up everything to really follow Jesus’ commands?
  • Prayers – What do you need to say? Is the Lord’s Prayer sufficient? Does he want us to chat with him like a friend?