“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
— Mark 10:25
You always hear
“You can’t take it with you,”
and that’s right, you can’t.
But what is “it”?
Jesus made this statement after talking to a wealthy young man.
It is likely that he was referring to money.
But maybe he also meant something more.
We do not get to hold on to our stuff
if we want to enter the kingdom of God.
Not any of it.
Obviously not our material possessions.
No one is going to make it through the eye of a needle
holding a fat wallet, or a bulky jewelry box,
or sitting in a really nice car.
The eye of a needle is a skimming thing.
It will skim those things right off you.
That part is straightforward.
However, it is much simpler for me to give away my stuff,
or write a check,
or hand over my car keys,
than it is for me to give away,
actively hand over to God,
things that lie so deep within me
I can barely discern them as being separate from me.
My sense of entitlement.
I work hard so I am owed.
I have suffered much so I am owed.
I am “good” so I am owed.
I don’t have that particular bad habit so I am better.
I don’t engage in that exact risky behavior so I am better.
I don’t experience that specific addiction so I am better.
My sense of “other.”
My sense of separateness from other people.
My sense of us versus them.
In my own heart I am always the us,
never the them,
and without even knowing I am making a choice at all,
I separate myself from humanity.
As if their suffering were only theirs,
when in truth,
all suffering is ours.
We are all one.
Not just a cozy thought.
Not just a catchy phrase.
There is so much change I cannot effect.
The world is huge.
The need is immense.
But I have an opportunity,
right in the spaces where I live,
to draw the circle wider.
To pull further open the doors of the church,
letting more light spill out.
To offer the invitation more broadly,
welcoming more souls to the party
that was never meant just for me in the first place.
I cannot enter the kingdom of God with any of these things
in my hands or in my heart.
They will be skimmed off me,
and it might sting,
and I might miss them.
I have had them for so long.
They are familiar.
But light is spilling out over the path,
and I can hear music,
I can feel warmth,
and that is where I want to go.
I want to be there,
in that kingdom,
near that Party-Giver,
and I don’t have to choose who can come in with me.
Thankfully, that is not my decision to make.
Wait for me.
I’ll be right there —
I’ve just got a few things I have to set down first.