Hope for the 1%
It's always remarkable to me when a person of great wealth, fame or power in the world professes genuine faith and love for Christ. Not because I'm star-struck or because I believe faith to be reserved only for the poor and nameless, but because I understand the unique challenges a life of comfort and luxury can present to one seeking discipleship in the way of Jesus.
Remember Jesus’ words on this topic,
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24).
“How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Lk. 18:24—25).
WHO ARE 'THE RICH'?
Often when we think of "a rich man and the kingdom" names like Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Chris Pratt come to mind. These Jesus-professing men are mega-stars whose net worth lands in the hundreds of millions; their names, likeness and works are known around the world. It's easy for us to tag them in Jesus' remarks about the wealthy.
But is that accurate? Or is it possible that the rich whom Jesus spoke of could more likely be one of us? Nah! Not you. Certainly not me. Others of us, lol.
This may seem like a stretch, but the average modern American lives a life of comfort, luxury and influence far beyond the imagination of Jesus' original audience of the first century. Even the poorest among us today, by virtue of government aid and common modern conveniences (shelter, accessibility to food, transportation, cell phone service, etc.) will never experience the level of hunger and base need like that of the common person of Jesus' day. I don't think it's a stretch to say that in comparison to much of human history, we are insanely rich.
We are the 1%.
Perhaps we should feel personally shook when we ponder Jesus' statements about serving two masters and the difficulty for the rich entering the kingdom of heaven? Those are such tough words, even the disciples questioned:
“Who then can be saved?”
Jesus’ response to their question gives hope to us and everyone else who has ever given allegiance to two masters:
"For what is impossible with man, is possible with God" (Lk. 18:27).
IT’S POSSIBLE WITH GOD
One of the great examples we see in scripture is that of King David. As the king of Israel, David enjoyed wealth and luxuries beyond that of any common person of his day. While at times David's privilege enabled spiritual or moral compromise (think Bathsheba), at the end of the day, he goes down in redemptive history as "a man after God's own heart." David was not defined by his greatest failure; like every believer, he is redefined by grace. God looks at the heart and at his core, King David desired God more than anything else.
"One thing I have desired of the Lord; one thing I seek after. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and gaze upon His beauty and inquire at His temple" (Ps. 27:4).
Psalm 27:4 is good news to every Christian of the modern era—especially those from wealthy nations like the United States. It tells us that it is entirely possible for a person of great wealth, privilege and power to enter the kingdom and live with a singular focus and passion for God. One's prosperity, whether economic, influence or power, does not have to come at the expense of their spiritual health and passion for Jesus. It is possible for the “kings” of the world to live for one thing, like King David.
LIVING AFTER GOD’S HEART
A defining moment in David’s life occurred when he critically assessed his own lifestyle. He was sickened by the fact that while he was living in luxury, the Ark of God was camping in a tent. It wasn’t that the king was convicted of luxury, but that he had not cared for God’s house with the same intentionality he had his own. David saw dissonance between his one desire prayer and his actual way of life and he was eager to make a change.
As we walk our own difficult path through the eye of the needle, we too have continual need for similar assessment. It’s in the spirit of helping us follow in David’s footsteps that I have provided spiritual inventory questions below. The questions are not exhaustive, but designed to help you think critically about the degree to which your lifestyle aligns to Jesus’ kingdom—the one thing that truly matters.
1. One thing I have desired of the Lord; one thing I seek after...
One way to identify the things we desire is to take note of the things we repeatedly pursue. Think about your typical day. What objectives do you set out to fulfill? Earn money, respect or praise? Achieve professional goals? Save for a vacation, car or house? How often do you start your day with a foremost desire to glorify Jesus, fulfill His desires or serve someone in His name?
2. ...that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life...
A place of dwelling is a place of comfort. What is the place of comfort you are after? Are you looking for financial peace? Giving your children better opportunities? Early retirement? How about the presence of God? Sure, God is everywhere. But His manifest presence is a ministering presence; it brings healing, renewal and alignment. What practices in your weekly routine make space for lingering in God’s presence?
3. ...and gaze upon His beauty...
Smart phones, stocks and business plans; everyone gives their attention to something. Do you give your attention and focus to meeting God in scripture? Scripture is the primary place we get a glimpse of God’s heart and His ways and gaze on His beauty. Do you have a regular rhythm of gazing on Jesus in scripture?
4. ...and inquire at His temple.
To inquire of the Lord is to seek out His leadership in prayer and to ask for His abundant grace to live in His will. Prayer is the ultimate expression of dependance and a sign of one’s need for God; to be prayer-less is to live independent, self-sufficient and without the power of the Spirit. Do you actively inquire of the Lord?
Get Rooted in your Identity in Christ
Since 2009 Adam has trained and mobilized over 40 international evangelism teams and has equipped thousands in the areas of identity, hearing God and evangelism via seminars around the world. Adam has preached the gospel in city campaigns, universities, high schools and bamboo huts in remote villages, all with supernatural effect. Communicating with humor and fresh biblical insight, Adam is a unique prophetic evangelist who equips everyday Jesus-followers to live authentic, New Testament Christianity, discovering their highest joy in the Great Commandment and their unique assignment in the Great Commission.
Adam is author of New Identity: 30 Days of Prayer for Spiritual Transformation and producer of multiple e-courses and the Jesus Movement Now Podcast. He and his wife, Jenny, have four children and reside in Franklin, TN.
Adam is ordained through Messenger Fellowship, and is a member of the Luis Palau Association Global Network of Evangelists.