Easter Sunday Musings About The Rich Man, The Camel, And The Needle
Published 3/23/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
This is not really a blog about my religious beliefs but what is Easter Sunday without writing a post about money and God?
Many Christians may have spent the morning waking up early to attend Easter Sunday service. Although I did not attend this year, my church chose to celebrate the early morning occasion by holding special holiday services in the great outdoors at a lakeside location in Columbia, Maryland where the whole congregation could worship together with the tranquility of nature.
For non Christians and those unfamiliar with the religious concept of Easter, allow me to explain why the holiday is so important to Christians. Well for starters, it doesn't revolve around the Easter bunny and her basket of Easter eggs. I have no idea how a cuddly rabbit and her loot became the commercialized focus of the Easter holiday, in the same way I am unclear as to how Santa Claus became the figurehead of Christmas, the other major Christian holiday. But the reason why Easter is important to Christian church goers is because it commemorates and observes the third day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and became resurrected after His crucifixion by the masses. While the day is not filled with presents and celebrated with as much shopping related hype as Christmas, Easter is actually the most important Christian holiday because it remembers the day in history that Christ fulfilled His destiny to become the living sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
Many ordinary folks tend to overlook the significance of this holiday. I don't blame them. It's not a particularly exciting holiday in the secular world. But it's an incredibly important day because it goes to the very heart of the Christian belief. Easter is the day that we pray to God to thank Him for the goodness He has bestowed on our lives, and to thank him for the continual love that inspired Him originally to send His only son to suffer and die on the cross for us. To non-Christians it may not make much sense, but for myself as a Christian and a believer, it is a very personal day. Through Christ I feel relieved and forgiven for much of the ethical and moral dilemmas of day to day life.
The Eternal Struggle Between Mankind's Love of Material Wealth and The Love Of God
One of the biggest struggles of all believers has always been the inevitable tension between the love for wealth and the love for God. It might sound strange and funny to be in love with money, but the fact of the matter is that many of us worship wealth. We love to make it, grow it, dream about it, invest it, save it, protect it, and find ways to spend it. Part time finance bloggers such as myself might know more about this than anyone else. We make it our part time duty to write and blog regularly about the topic of money. It's almost natural for us to become obsessed with the subject of growing our financial wealth. But for those of us who are also Christian, sometimes this fascination can eclipse our humble obligation and duty to put God before everything else.
In fact, this very tension was addressed in the Bible's New Testament Book of Matthew, Chapter 19, when Jesus Christ was approached by a wealthy man looking for guidance on what he could do to secure his entrance to heaven after his passing. Christ immediately instructed the young man to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor before attempting to pursue God. Christ knew very well that as feeble minded, obsessed, and greedy individuals, it was in our fallible and sinful nature to pursue material wealth and possessions above all else. In fact, upon hearing that he would need to give up all of his wealth to follow Christ, the wealthy young man walked away sad, because he knew giving up his riches would not be easy - his vast wealth meant he had more to lose.
Thus it rings true - it is much easier to seek God when we are poor and downtrodden because we have less to sacrifice. But as our financial wealth grows, it's the natural tendency to become misguided and blinded with the comforts that material possessions bring. Christ knew this was the case when He later preached to His disciple students:
"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:23 NIV.
The statement wouldn't be so sad if it weren't so true. I have met very few Christians in my life who I believed could truly give up all of their material possessions, fancy home electronics, and wealthy lifestyle for the promise of ephemeral treasures in the afterlife. In this ultra consumerism culture, we have grown so materially self indulgent with our trinkets and treasures that many of us don't seem to heed the promises that God has laid before us anymore. We are all too easily corrupted by the pursuit of financial riches and worldly things that we have become blind and deaf to God's words and admonishments. The more our personal wealth grows, the more we seem to to rely on our own abilities and our own financial means to carry us through life's difficulties, and we stop seeking God's guidance and blessings.
My Confession - The More Success I Have, The More I Seem To Stray From Church
I am by no means rich or even close to it, but I do believe it would be very difficult for a wealthy individual to genuinely and faithfully follow Christ's teachings.
A few years ago, I was just out of school and struggled financially so during that time I attended church more regularly. I was active in the church, participated in bible studies, attended church fellowship events, and even joined the church praise worship band as the drummer. Now that I am beginning to thrive again financially and professionally, I find myself drifting away and attending church less and less. I am starting to spend more time tending to my job, my side businesses and my money making ventures, rather than attending Sunday church services or even praying. Even blogging has taken away much of the time I used to have for church fellowship events and I find myself more and more cut off from the church body of Christ. I truly am more fallible than I had imagined.
My pursuit for the meaning of wealth has seemed to blind me to what God has provided for me. I know God has a purpose and a plan for me, but my human ways seem to have blinded me yet again. Deep down inside I know that my money filled world will ultimately be empty without Him, but that doesn't seem to have stopped me from wandering away from Him like a rebellious sheep. I do hope and pray that I will find my way back. This Easter Day, I hope I can refocus back on God and manage to put Him in first place in my life again. I know that God will never stop dishing out the blessings, but I do hope He'll help me find a way to re-prioritize my life for the better.