Winning the Lotto—Is It Heaven?
This July as the temperatures increase so do the potential winnings in the lottery and the lines buying tickets soar with the heat. The dream is intoxicating. In seconds, by pure chance, I can become a multi-millionaire able to buy mansions, yachts, dream vacations, invitations to high dollar political fund raisers, and even the opportunity to tithe to my favorite charities.
During the Cold War the communists followed Marx and argued that history was only about economics. Today whether I argue that America “is great” or needs to become “great again,” the “greatness” is defined in terms of material prosperity. Materialism is an alluring idol whether she enters from the right or the left. But what if those millions I suddenly won at the lottery could be a major obstacle when it comes to getting into Heaven? When Jesus is the judge, where do wealth and power stack up?
“And a ruler questioned Jesus, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus replied, ‘Why do you call me good; no one is good except God. You know the commandments: don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness, honor your father and your mother.’ He answered, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, He said, ‘Still, you are missing one thing: sell all you have and give to the poor and you will receive treasure in Heaven and come and follow me.’ When he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was very rich.
When Jesus saw that he became sad, He said, ‘How tough it is for a man who has wealth to enter the Kingdom of God. It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.’
Now when those who were listening heard this, they said, ‘Who then is able to be saved?’ Jesus answered, ‘The things that are impossible for man are possible for God!’” Luke 18:18-30
The wealthy ruler thought he had earned his way into the Kingdom. Then Jesus asks a simple question and his pretense is stripped away. This young man loves his wealth more than he loves God, proof that he is disobeying the first commandment. He flunks the last one as well since he covets his wealth and will cling to it instead of obeying the Good Teacher. He’s upset about the prospect of losing his money.
I need to get upset about my inability to keep the first and last commandments; therefore admitting that I need God to give me forgiveness and salvation as a gift, not as a reward for services rendered. This first century ruler with the right questions but the wrong answer continues to warn me against materialism.
Jesus already stressed it’s only the child- like ones who humbly admit they don’t have the resources who get invited into His Father’s House (Lk. 18:17). Jesus is right. It’s hard for a rich, powerful, prideful person to admit that he’s just a child.
LORD, today, topple the materialism that so easily becomes a false god in my life. Help me follow You and trust that You know what I need and what is good for me. Move those who are fueled by the goddess of chance and the dream of wealth to get out of the lottery line and receive Your gift that, against all odds, they can freely receive.
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