I have to admit I like reflecting on the more well-known Bible passages, as I actively seek to glean wisdom which is overlooked by the more obvious interpretations of these verses. Certainly Mark 10 falls in that category, and rereading the Gospel in conjunction with the First Lesson (Job 23:1-9) helped me discern something new and hopeful.
As someone who has worked very hard to escape the poverty that plagued my parents, it is at first disappointing to consider shedding my newfound comfort and surrendering my possessions so I may succeed in that blurry world after life on this earth. Steadfast believers in self-determination, free will, pulling oneself up by the bootstraps- aren’t these the American mantras which have made this Country so great in so many respects?
As we have been reminded before by our clergy, this world is necessarily in conflict with God and the kingdom of Heaven. In our earthly bodies, even the most devout of us suffer with the human impulses and imperfections which draw us toward our own short term happiness and away from eternal salvation. Greed or putting treasure ahead of heart and spirit is just one of many deadly sins we confront every day.
I’ve always loved the last scene of the movie, “The Devil’s Advocate.” The main character has seemingly resisted all the temptations set forth by the devil to recruit him into service, when a lowly reporter (the devil disguised) successfully tempts him with an exclusive ‘tell all’ of his inspirational story of spiritual redemption. Out of their view, the devil takes his familiar form, grins and declares, “Vanity. Definitely my favorite sin.”
With these inevitable fallacies in mind, the disciples ask Jesus who can be saved, and it is clear that if it is up to us mortals, the discouraging answer is no one. However “for God, all things are possible.” This is good news, but it is only the beginning once we consider the Lesson. Job is not only confident that God can save him, but that He will save him. He is confident that God, who could easily overpower him in every sense with absolute sovereignty and strict justice, would listen to him plead his case on the final judgment day, have mercy on him and forgive him, and usher him to eternal life in His kingdom. Job is so convinced, he impatiently wishes today was judgment day.
I’m fine putting my own judgment off for as long as God allows. I continue to struggle with earthly temptations in my own life, and make those sacrifices my spirit is willing to concede even though they are inadequate. To me the greatest gift is, instead grappling with fear of discomfort versus the pain of self-loathing, to be filled with great gratitude for the assurance of eternal life in the age to come.
- What did you take away from this past Sunday’s service?
- What temptations pull you away from relationship with God? How do/will you resist?
- Do you trust that God not only can, but will save you from your sins to inherit eternal life?