Below is the second chapter, freshly edited, of my book Through the Needle’s Eye. As I said last month, I’m writing only to those who are serious about their relationship with God, or who want to become serious. This month (and next month), we’ll be taking an honest look at Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler, the man who exemplified the proverbial camel who could not make it through the needle’s eye.
That encounter, recorded in three of the four Gospels, calls into question commonly-held beliefs about salvation and the grace God is offering. And for that reason, even if you are not serious about your relationship with God and have no interest in becoming serious, it would be well worth your time to read what follows. What could be more important than the subject of eternal life (the very thing the rich young ruler was seeking)?
Last month, as June’s e-teaching, I sent you the introduction to an old book of mine that I am in the process of re-editing, titled Through the Needle’s Eye: An Impossible Journey Made Possible by God.
I hope that, after reading the Introduction last month, you made the decision to read the remainder of the book as we publish chapters over the coming months. If you did, below is Chapter One, an honest look at Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Fool.
More than a decade ago I wrote a controversial book titled, Through the Needle’s Eye, and subtitled, An Impossible Journey Made Possible by God. Due to the subject matter—biblical stewardship—it was by far the most challenging book I’ve ever written. I did my best to be honest in interpreting what Scripture says, but the problem is, the Bible doesn’t always support what is often taught and believed about stewardship in modern church circles.
So I gritted my teeth as I wrote, knowing that, most likely, my finished product would not end up on the New York Times Best Seller List. In fact, I felt certain that what I was writing would close most every church door that might otherwise be open to my teaching ministry. It was like closing the lid on my own coffin.
Why do we love? Our motives for loving can be divided into two categories: (1) “I love you because of…” and (2) “I love you in spite of…” The first we could call merited love and the second merciful love. Merited love is earned and deserved. Merciful love is not. It stems from grace.
Every loving relationship finds its motive in one or the other, or a mix of the two, including marriage relationships. However, before I reveal the 14 words that can fix or upgrade your marriage, let’s first make sure we sufficiently understand merited and merciful love.
One of the redemptive perks for doing something stupid is that it is much easier in the future to correct others who are making the same mistake. By simply talking about your own past foolishness, you can provoke others to ponder without pointing your finger.
I’ve been able, for example, to prick the consciences of thousands of pastors over the years by telling the story of my pastoral repentance (something I shared in Part 4 of this series). In that case, my problem was more than stupidity. It was plain disregard of Jesus’ words. The confession I’m about to make trends more to the “sincere but stupid” side.
So far in this five-part series, we’ve considered how the gospel ends racism, misogyny and abortion, both now, in the lives of all true believers, and ultimately, in Christ’s future worldwide reign. Regarding the subject of this e-teaching, political polarization—something we’ve certainly witnessed during the last election—it is easy to understand why only one political viewpoint will dominate the future reign of Christ. But it is puzzling that evangelical Christians are politically polarized, right and left, along with everyone else, with each side claiming the higher moral ground.
I confess that I—on moral grounds—lean a little more to the right, but I’ve got good Christian friends who lean a little more to the left—and also on moral grounds. Yet we’re all reading from the same Bible.
“Legalized abortion is the greatest human rights violation of our time. It is going the way of slavery and segregation, sooner or later.”
That was my prediction in Part 1 of this series, and it was based on more than just wishful thinking. According to a recent Gallup Poll, “Support for making abortion broadly illegal [is] growing fastest among young adults” (gallup.com/poll/126581/generational-differences-abortion-narrow.aspx). That is a good sign for the future.
Moreover, in 1996, 56% of Americans considered themselves “pro-choice,” while only 33% considered themselves “pro-life.” As of May, 2016, that gap narrowed to 47% and 46% respectively (gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx).
The “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels, however, fall short of identifying the various stances people hold regarding abortion. The truth is, many people who consider themselves to be pro-choice actually hold views that are pro-life to a degree, and vice versa.
If someone had written an article in the London Times during its first year of publication, 1785, titled, “The End of the Slave Trade,” no reader would have taken it seriously. Britain had dominated the Atlantic slave trade for 200 years. Slavery was an entrenched institution.
In 1787, however, a tiny Quaker and Anglican abolitionist society began working to influence public opinion. They were eventually joined by a born-again politician named William Wilberforce, and in 1791 he introduced his first bill before Parliament to abolish England’s slave trade. That bill was soundly defeated.
Just about every year thereafter for the next 20 years, Wilberforce introduced a motion for abolition that was voted down, a drawn-out battle that is well dramatized in the 2006 movie, Amazing Grace. Wilberforce’s persistence was finally rewarded in 1807, when Parliament voted in favor of abolishing the slave trade. Slavery itself was not abolished by Parliament for another 26 years, in 1833.
It was a 46-year struggle. During the first 45 of those 46 years, the consciences of every British Parliamentarian sided with Wilberforce, but the majority clung to their justifications for slavery—all based on the various lies they employed to suppress the truth. In the end however, the truth, which had not changed in 46 years, prevailed.