With Jesus concern for the poor always seemed to assume a position at or very near the top of his list of priorities. On many occasions his directives regarding meeting the needs of the poor linked directly to the challenges of being rich.
On one occasion a very wealthy man approached Jesus with a theological question.
In the religious tradition of my own heritage, the man's question was the ultimate question: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered by pointing to the Ten Commandments.
The rich man replied, I expect with some relief and pride, "All these I have kept since I was a boy."
I expect Jesus' reply came as a shock to the man:
"You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
There it is.
Front and center.
Love God by loving your neighbor.
That is it.
At the end of my tenure as Senior Minister for the last church I served before moving to the inner city, I remember telling the members there that "I believe more and more in less and less."
It was my way of trying to say that the issues of faith are not usually all that complex. The way of Jesus is not hard to understand. The journey and the following can be a challenge, but the call and the content are not very complicated.
I've found most of the theological disputes and doctrinal arguments for which Christians are infamous are largely irrelevant to the heart, to the essential truth of Christianity.
For Jesus, faith is all about loving God via loving and caring for others.
Demanding at times.
But, very, very clear.
[Read the full story of the rich man and Jesus at Luke 18:18-30.]
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