The camel, the humps, and the "I" of the needle

Too often we approach God with a kind of "You do this for me, and I'll do this for You" attitude. But whenever we do, we are in for a rude awakening.

Before I tell you about my rude awakening, I have to tell you where the idea for this article came from—the Biblical account of the rich man who comes to Christ Jesus, eagerly wanting to know what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus refers him to the last six commandments of the Decalogue—those most concerned with man's relationship to his fellowman— not to steal, lie, commit adultery, and so on. The man readily replies to Jesus that he has been obeying them for years. (No easy task of itself!)

But when Jesus demands that the rich man leave all for Christ, he touches the issue of the first four commandments— the ones that most obviously concern the inward relation to God that demands the all of a person's heart, mind, and soul. Jesus says, "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." Mark 10:21. Jesus drives home his point: the kingdom of heaven is obtained not through human acquisition but only as we relinquish all that is not heavenly.

Since the man has great possessions, he goes away very sad, and from what is written we are tempted to assume that this poor fellow has decided against the kingdom. But we might just as well assume that he goes away sad because he really wants this kingdom but understands just how much his decision will cost him—everything!

Science and Health, prayer, and law
November 23, 1987

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