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Camels and needles 15-10-06pm

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CAMELS AND NEEDLES  (Mark 10:17-31)          15-10-06pm

Mic 6:6  What shall I bring to the LORD, the God of heaven,

when I come to worship him?

No, the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.                        Mic 6:8)

This am we dealt with two questions:

one based on a question put to Jesus about the most important                            – the greatest commandment …

A teacher came to Jesus with a question: 

"Which commandment is the most important of all?"  Jesus replied,

"The most important one is this: 

'Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'

The second most important commandment is this:

'Love your neighbour as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment more important than these two."             (Mark 12:28-31)

The other question was raised and answered by the prophet Micah n behalf of the Almighty and the basis of that response has been adopted as a world wide challenge….

PPT Micah challenge

More information from back of church

This pm we are going to briefly deal with another question …….

Mark 10:17  As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him.

 "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"                                                                 (Mark 10:17)

And after all the discussion…. camels and needle eyes….

Mark 10:21-22  21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."  22 At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

I don’t want to begin with the camel “going through” the eye of that proverbial needle.. although we cannot avoid its implications but let’s start with the old fable tells about a crane that was wading in a stream looking for snails when a beautiful swan landed nearby. The crane had never seen a swan before, so he asked, “What are you?” “I’m a swan,” came the reply. “And where did you come from?” the crane inquired. “Heaven,” the swan answered. “What is that?” asked the crane. The swan eagerly began to explain its beauty and glory. He spoke of the new Jerusalem, the city of pure gold with a jasper wall and pearly gates. He described its “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal.” At that point the crane interrupted, “Tell me, are there any snails in heaven?” “No, I’m afraid not,” the swan said. “Then I don’t care to go there,” the crane stated decisively. “I like snails!”

Always reminds me of the words of Jesus particularly from the S on M ….

"Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are.        (Mat 6:19-21)

But the $64,000? What are your riches, what do you really value?

                        What do consider to be important in your life!

Comedian Jack Benny, who hated to part with his money, a combination lock on his wallet…. tells about being "held up" one evening. The robber stuck a gun in his ribs and said, "Your money or your life". After the gun was jabbed deeper Benny said, "Give me a minute, I'm thinking about it."

What is it that we consider to be important?

We always call the person who accosted to Jesus as the Rich Young Ruler….    And his appears to have been a very genuine question… as we are told that Jesus seeing him trying to respond to the points he made… loved him…

What do we make of this “young” man?

            If he was young then almost certainly his wealth had been inherited not earned – you needed lots of breaks in 1st century Palestine to be considered rich and his ethical behaviour, he makes clear, was exemplary but

Never did any story so lay down the essential Christian truth the respectability is never enough.

 Jesus quoted the commandments which were the basis of the decent life - notice he also includes “To defraud” …. Not strictly one of the 10... but fraud was one of the ways in which you stood a chance of accumulating a fortune… after all that was what many tax collectors of that time had done….but very unlikely that anyone on their own,  could have amassed a great deal without some sort of misrepresentation ….

  Without hesitation the man said he had kept them all. Note one thing—with one exception they were all negative commandments, and that one exception operated only in the family circle. In effect the man was saying, “I never in my life did anyone any harm.” That was perfectly true, no one present appears to have disputed it!

But the real question was and is:  “What good have you done?” And the question to this man was even more pointed, “With all your possessions, with your wealth, with all that you could give away, what positive good have you done to others? How much have you gone out of your way to help and comfort and strengthen others as you might have done?” Respectability, on the whole, consists in not doing things; Christianity consists in doing things. That was precisely where this man -like so many of us- fell down.

The two are not necessarily directly linked…

The problem with riches, Jesus makes clear, is that instead of managing your money – you have the possibility of your wealth controlling you….

            It is very difficult once you have become accustomed to a standard of living – a way of life – of going back to a simpler more frugal existence

            Everybody knows – even George Bush – that the burning of fossil fuels is affecting the climate  … the warm weather we are enjoying at the moment is an example…. But how many of us want to give up our cars… or turn down our central heating thermostats…. We need to start to take on board that we will have to give up certain things and alter particular patterns of behaving … if we are to leave our grandchildren a decent future..   And if we are honest we should understand only too well where that rich young ruler was coming from and where he did not want to go…

            It has been suggested that if we as a nation stopped leaving our electronics on standby and switched them off we could manage with one or two less power stations and all that implies….

            Now I’m not here this pm to give an address on saving the environment although that is a real Christian issue…. But to speak about saving our souls…. The only trouble is that very often this is tied up with the way we take care of our bodies and order the priorities that look after our lives

            I think most of us would like to invest in rather giant enormous needles to get those camels through because it seems clear that getting too tied up with money is not a way that will permit us to experience eternal life…..

There is of course nothing wrong with money – it is the love of it that causes problems – the root of all evil

And we know that poor people can be just as wicked as us…. But that is not a way of letting ourselves off the hook, we must never let our money, our riches dictate the sorts of people that we should be or become  - this was the rich young ruler’s problem:

“He went away sad, because he had great wealth….”

One day we will have to account for the way in which we stewarded – took care of the resources that the good Lord placed at our disposal- he doesn’t expect us to lead miserable, critical lives begrudging every last penny we might spend on ourselves… but he does want us to show responsibility for what he has placed in our hands and he’ll want us to explain, if that is indeed the case, why we thought more about ourselves than any body else…

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