Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What if you're too rich to get into heaven

 I was sitting there feeling fidgety. I was without a book or a magazine and pulling out the phone in my situation would have been crass.

Then, lo and behold, I spied a book that had been left there for just such an occasion.

It was the Bible!

It was like a sign from God.

Sure, I was in church awaiting Sunday service but —  what the heck? — I chose to ascribe divine implications. 

I picked it up and began a Biblical browse.

I confess, when I’m in church my prayers often center on things like me hitting the lottery.

That I’ve been steadfastly doing this in vain for five decades now led me to years ago compose what is, for me, a profound line worthy of either a fortune cookie or maybe Bible II: “Pray for riches and you’ll get nothing. Pray for wisdom and you’ll need nothing.”

I can’t help it. I still pray for riches.

That’s why the first page I flipped to caught me off guard. It was the book of Matthew, 19:23-26. It reads verbatim:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich 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 someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’”

You can check it out yourself. There is no asterisk. No wiggle room. And this isn’t some run-of-the-mill prophet.

This is Jesus Christ.

He’s saying it’s practically impossible for a rich person to get into heaven.

Well, isn’t that a real kick in the ass?

We devote our every waking moment to scoring more loot. Then after a life of scheming and grubbing we get to heaven and hear, sorry, you’re too rich. You can go straight to hell.

I gleefully imagine Trump at the heavenly precipice finally releasing his tax returns and pleading, “See! I was never really as rich as I said I was! It was all a lie! I’ve always been poor! Poor! Poor!”

To paraphrase Don McLean, “I hear Satan laughing with delight.”

Truly, it would be a confounding reversal if everyone of us had it all wrong and our mad dash toward accumulated wealth was spiritually defective.

But the Bible is explicit.

The meek shall inherit the earth. The first shall be last, the last shall be first.

I gotta tell you, I’m liking my odds.

I ain’t got squat, but if squat’s all I got then I got a lot.

Being poor is a defining characteristic of my life. I’m in debt, prospects remain bleak, savings long gone. When it comes to nothing, man, I have it all!

How poor am I?

In a cost-saving maneuver, we just slashed our cable options and I lost every single sports channel. If I want to watch a baseball game or Penguin playoff hockey, I have to go out to a bar.

I’m now the poorest man on earth.

Or am I?

I still have a comfortable home, a reliable vehicle and enough disposable dough to squander on sudsy hootch when I feel obliged to go out and watch sports in a bar.

That’s not all. I have a family I adore, squads of great friends and a sunny optimism that leads me to believe everything will one day work out just fine.


Hell, in many, many ways, I’m among the richest men on earth.

How about you?

Do you fear you’re too rich to get into heaven? Does material excess clutter your spiritual highway?

I have a simple solution:

Give it all to me!

We can solve two problems in one fell swoop.

You can live in righteous compliance with the Word of God and I can restore my cable sports channels.

Then I can devote my life to finding either a really tiny camel or else a really big needle to one day prove if it’s possible to slide a camel through the eye of a needle then it’s possible for a really rich dude like me to squeeze into heaven.

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