Why do people seek money? Why are people focussed on wealth creation? Why do people desire so greatly to be rich, to the point that some will seek illegal methods of getting there?
Security is the reason. Money and wealth in this age equals security. People want wealth so that they don’t have to worry about money and can do the things they want to do rather than what they have to do. And most people believe they can’t do that unless they feel secure.
But what often happens is that those who get great wealth spend all of their time focussed on their wealth. Their main concern is to ensure it is not taken away from them by thieves, scammers, con-men and bad deals. Or that it is protected so it is not lost when the markets crash, the economy goes sour or any of the myriad of things that can take your money away. They hire high priced accountants and lawyers to find ways to minimise taxes and exploit loopholes in the tax systems to maximise their wealth.
Their trust in riches becomes a prison. Instead of securing them from the upheavals of the financial and economic woes of the world, it drives them in fear of losing what they have gained. They fear the loss of everything, for they have a lot to lose and it can be easily lost.
This was the situation the young man was in, who approached Jesus asking “What must I do to have eternal life?” (Mark 10:17) He had great wealth and it was a burden to him for he was looking to his wealth for security rather than to the Lord. The man knew there was more to know, but when he was advised by Jesus to sell all he had, and thus free himself of his money prison, and come follow Jesus to achieve perfection, he found he could not do it.
Jesus continued teaching the disciples how hard it will be for anyone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. If they focus on wealth as security they cannot focus on Christ as well. It is written that, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) The attention of the rich will be divided for on the one hand they will be seeking security in the Lord, and on the other trying to shore up their security in wealth from being taken away.
In addition, the Lord’s servant is exactly that. We come to Christ as servants, not to be served, just as Christ came to serve and not be served. But the rich are too used to having things their own way. There position causes them to be masters rather than servants for in this world money is power and the two go together. Thus again the words of Christ echo saying, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Verse 23)
Are all who are rich like this? No. And even though Jesus said it would be hard, he did not say it would be impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The degree of difficulty will be great for he said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Verse 25) Although this may be impossible for man, it is not for God. God could deconstruct the camel and pass it through the eye of a needle one molecule at a time and reconstruct it on the other side.
There is no security in wealth or riches. The recent global financial crisis is proof of how quickly and easily wealth can be destroyed and lost. Seeking security in the things of this world like wealth and money is like putting your trust in a false god. When the chips are really down there is no support and there is no help.
But in Christ we have a saviour who will help and who will make us secure. The security of the Lord in the provision of his peace, protection and love is unbounded. He has promised that we will not suffer want or loss and so we can take comfort in his words. Our priority must be to seek first his kingdom and not worry about the things of this world for they are temporary and doomed to pass away.