rich: Red Letter Challenge

I’m one of those kids that didn’t want for much growing up. My needs were met and sometimes even my wants.

With that said, I rarely had the top name brands. Those were for the “rich” kids, and we weren’t rich.

Fast-forward to my first job and my first paycheck. What did I do? I went to one of the shoe stores at the mall where I worked and I bought a pair of Nike shoes. I was so excited! Finally, I owned a pair of shoes rich kids wore.

After a couple of weeks, the sole started splitting. I don’t think I wore the shoes more than a couple of months. I don’t remember anyone commenting on how cool my shoes were or how much more they liked me.

A couple of lessons for me here:

  1. Name brand does not necessarily mean better
  2. Shoes wear out no matter how much they cost
  3. As fancy as you think your shoes are, someone else probably has fancier
  4. Buy shoes that feel good and make you feel good, not shoes you hope other people notice

For a long time, being rich to me meant having enough money to buy what you wanted whenever you wanted. It was all about money.

I didn’t have the same resources, but I believe I may have had the same heart as the “rich young ruler.”

Wanting to “inherit eternal life,” he approached Jesus asking what he needed to do.

The man described his commitment to the laws, but Jesus’ invitation completely wrecked him.

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.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

Mark 10:21-23 (New International Version

I’ve read this story many times and I’ve generally thought the issue is the man’s wealth. Being rich is the problem. I believe I may have missed the point.

Having money is one way to define being rich. If this is your definition, the idea of giving it all away would be world-shattering. But this is not the only way to understand being rich. This is not the only definition.

I officiated a funeral today, and while the woman we honored had financial resources, I don’t think she was on the Forbes top 100 wealthiest persons list. Still, she was very rich. She was deeply loved and admired. She was respected and considered special by those who knew her best. She was also a woman of great faith and I do not think this coincidental.

So long as we keep thinking of rich as stuff and things and money, we will have difficulty following Jesus, because Jesus asks us to give away everything we love more than him. If instead we hold our relationship with Jesus and others as being what makes us rich, we will find money can be a tool to help others, to meet needs, to do good. The relationships, though are what make us rich (or poor).

Pictured are my latest pair of running shoes…way better than those Nike’s I thought were so incredible. They won’t make me cooler or smarter. I am hoping they can help me become a better me…a healthier me. For all that, I would rather go barefoot the rest of my life and have the kind of family and friends show up to grieve my passing as the woman I tried to honor today. There is rich and then there is rich. I want to be rich as she was.

Life is better together,

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