Are you richer than Rich or the rich young ruler?

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I know what you’re thinking, “This must be a spiritual question relating to the richness of our lives rather than money.” Wrongo! I am asking about your money and wealth ….. but it is rhetorical so please don't send me your IRS form.

This question was inspired by watching some old video footage of Rich Mullins on YouTube after having viewed the Ragamuffin movie. He shares some funny and thought-provoking insights. As he mentions that God can speak to us in many ways, he uses the example of Baalam and his donkey in the Old Testament as conveyed by one of his professors. “God actually spoke to Balaam through his ass ….. and He's been speaking through asses ever since! So if God should choose to speak through you ….. you ought not think too highly of yourself.” In Bob Rooks’ book (reviewed–back page) I learned that the language the donkey must have spoken was ASSyrian!

The above “rich” question was inspired by comments Rich made about being born again. We have an entire theology based on comments Jesus made to one man, namely Nicodemus in John 3. We do need to be born again, but why aren’t we so keen on following the advice Jesus gave to another man, namely the rich young ruler? Jesus told one man that if he wanted to get into the Kingdom of God he needed to be born again, and another man that to inherit eternal life he should sell all he had and give to the poor.

Many of us do not see this applying to us because, after all, we are not really rich. We know quite a few people who have a lot more money than we do. People are generally considered rich or poor based on a comparison to the relative economic state of other people in the same society. I started to wonder how rich we are today compared to that rich young ruler.

He might be similar to a typical college student in our postmodern age. In fact, today's middle-class college student would probably feel sorry for this 1st century young man. He probably never traveled outside Palestine, yet many of today's students have vacationed in Hawaii or Cancun. He had no air-conditioned tent and more than likely walked everywhere he went, without Nikes. Since he was a Jewish (not Roman) ruler, he probably did not have a chariot or 5 speed camel, let alone an older model automobile like mine (in a month there will not be a single teenager alive on this planet that is older than my car!). He was unfamiliar with indoor plumbing, text messaging, iPhone 8 (this newsletter won’t come out for a couple months so I’m sure the iPhone 6 is outdated by now), computers, flat-screen TVs, or Calvin Klein clothes. It’s very sobering to realize that most of us in America are much richer than this rich ruler Jesus dialogues with in Luke 18:18-23.

In the context of our world, we are all rich young rulers. I read from “MSN Money” that if you make a mere $34,000 a year, you are among the wealthiest of the wealthy, the top 1% of humanity’s 7 billion people. Even if you’re at the official poverty line in the U.S. you’re in the top 13%.

I don’t know what to tell you to do with that. I still remember being blown away in the 80’s when I heard that Rich got close to $10,000 in royalties the 1st time one of his songs was used in a TV movie of the week! At some point in Rich’s life he chose to live from a meager salary on a Navajo reservation, giving all his money from royalties to churches or charities like Compassion International. I was encouraged to hear that he actually contacted a few organizations to find out about their accountability (Compassion is in the top 1% of all charities). He became a huge supporter and spokesman for Compassion when he discovered they have one of the highest percentages of donated money that goes directly to ministry and feeding kids, both physically and spiritually. I hope you will read the touching final letter from one of the children Kristen & I have supported for many years (Letters section–back page) & I hope you’ll prayerfully consider giving $38 a month to support and correspond with your own child.

You may have recently read the horrific accounts of Muslim extremists beheading children. We have been burdened lately to help these persecuted Iraqi Christians. I had a thought of Jesus wanting to help them but since He is not on planet Earth physically, what could He do? Then it dawned on me, maybe He has blessed Americans and given us resources not because we’re His favorite or chosen, but rather so we could have the privilege of being His hands and feet to help our persecuted brothers and sisters (as many as 10,000 followers of Christ are killed every year because of their faith).

In case you’d like some suggestions on how to store up treasures in Heaven rather than on Earth (Mat. 6:19-21), in addition to our local church tithing, 3 Compassion children, and a few other ministries, we have recently supported Food for the Hungry, and Samaritan’s Purse, since each have specific groups over there ministering directly to the needs of persecuted Iraqi Christians. Please ask God how you can simplify your lifestyle to help others!

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