If you read the gospels and listen to Jesus it seems that he comes to ‘preach good news to the poor’ and that it is almost impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. He is pretty harsh on ‘the rich’ (whoever they may be…)
If the gospel is (as Scot McKnight summarises it) ‘Jesus is Lord’ then the news of his rule taking place will certainly be good news for the poor. They are going to get a much better deal than they have done and life is going to be much more attractive – perhaps even something like what the creator intended…
But for the rich…
‘Jesus is Lord’ can be a complicating statement, because to most of us who are rich that is not very good news… You see we tend to see ourselves as in control of our lives and destiny and Jesus wanting to stake a claim is hard to swallow.
Jesus never spoke of preaching ‘good news to the rich’, in fact if anything he preached ‘woe to you who are wealthy now because you have your reward in full’ (Luke 6:24) It has me reflecting this morning on the challenge of mission to the middle class west – where we are actually ridiculously rich beyond belief – even if we can’t see it.
The news of God’s kingdom coming may not be that exciting. The news of God restoring the world and dealing with poverty, sickness and sin may not ‘work’ for us because to deal with poverty means sharing what we hoard.
Perhaps that is why the gospel in middle classdom gets translated almost exclusively as ‘sins forgiven and eternity in heaven’ – a far more attractive package to the person who doesn’t want to resign control of their own life and possibly share their wealth…
I think the gospel is good news for all, but given our self centred western mindset it is difficult for us to see how there is any good news in life revolving less around us.
I found this quote on Stephen’s Said’s facebook today and it ties in well with our struggle to accept the gospel.
Christianity is a lifestyle—a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared, inclusive, and loving. We made it, however, into a formal established religion, in order to avoid the demanding lifestyle itself. One could then be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain at the highest levels of the church, and still easily believe that Jesus is “my personal Lord and Savior.” The world has no time for such silliness anymore. The suffering on Earth is too great.”