I had to go yesterday to a stranger's house, because of some PTA volunteering I'm doing. Which is its own annoying story, and is probably the last in a long line of annoying stories that mean I DON'T wonder anymore why the poor PTA can't find the volunteers it needs, and ANYWAY, I had to go yesterday to a stranger's house. And the guy there looked and acted just like a politician. He was wearing an expensive-looking shirt tucked into belted trousers, just for hanging around the house. His hair was combed back over his head. He had a small, yappy dog and a big carefully-decorated house in a set-aside-from-the-majority neighborhood.
He had a large sign on his wall that laid out his household's religious beliefs very firmly, and at some length. It wasn't the kind of decorative item where the font and frame are pretty; it was the kind of sign a church office would use to lay out their charter: that Jesus was the son of God, that everything Jesus said was the word of God, that the Bible was also the word of God, and so on. Right by the door, just so we're all clear from the start where this household stands.
You can take the girl out of the church but you can't take the church out of the girl, so standing there looking at him and his clothes and his huge house and his huge sign, what came unbidden to my mind from the permanently-embedded archives was the verse from the book of Matthew in the Bible: "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."
I kept thinking about that all evening. That's a verse that doesn't get cross-stitched much, I'm guessing. It says, right from Jesus's mouth, that if you are rich you're not welcome. Not in heaven, not in Christianity. You may not join. Zero camels have fit through the eye of a needle, and the number of rich people who get into heaven is fewer than that.
One issue with this verse is that while there's certainly a whole category of people we'd all (except for them, probably) agree were rich, richness is relative below that, and the verse doesn't give any specifics. I was feeling a certain level of raised eyebrows at this PTA guy, but if we go back to the world spectrum concept for a minute, I myself am dripping in riches. I have a computer IN MY OWN HOUSE; in fact, I have FOUR. I have TWO cars in good condition. I have a house with MULTIPLE ROOMS. It has heating AND air conditioning, just built right in. I have TWO bathrooms, with running water in BOTH. I have many appliances. I have enough money to go to Wendy's whenever I want to. I can support two animals who don't contribute eggs or milk or meat or labor. Even when we live paycheck-to-paycheck, even when we rented an apartment, even when we had to put Wendy's in a careful budget, even when we had one bathroom, we have still been on the far wealthy edge of the world spectrum.
I've noticed a common concept that if someone is well-off, what they have is a blessing from God. If God gave it to us, he must have meant us to have it. If he didn't give to others, he must not have meant them to have it. What can a person do? *hands raised helplessly* This is where we need the parable of the good steward: what we have is given to us to do good with, on behalf of Someone Else. It's not ours. In fact, it's a test: what will you do with what you've been given? You are being graded on this.
I don't have any particular point to this: I'm not trying to get into the kingdom of God, which makes it difficult to tie things up with a sermon-type ending here. And it would be hard to turn it into a sermon anyway, if the person giving the sermon were still driving two cars and living in a multi-roomed house and making only financially-comfortable donations to charity, as I am: it's not a sermon that can be delivered by a camel.
Shopping ideas for summer fun - Normally this time of year I’m buying a batch of Summer Survival Gear Treats. I like to buy a new CD for the driving back and forth to lessons and camp; a ...