Jesus makes a point of mentioning in this story that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. This leads to Peter’s exclamation of ‘who then can be saved?’ Talk about a tricky situation. Jesus was starting a movement. Neither he nor his disciples and followers had substantial personal resources to call upon as support was needed. If I were starting a movement, there is little doubt that my first round of propaganda would be delivered to persons of substantial wealth.
Yet Jesus talks about the Kingdom as being structured differently. The emphasis is not on survivability, nor the wealth that a person can bring to the table. In fact, quite the opposite is asked: that one abandons their wealth and redistributes all of it and then comes and follows Jesus.
‘Who then can be saved.’ This phrase still messes with me. Is Peter implying that the rich somehow seem to have the advantage in most things and not comprehending the upside-down reality of the Kingdom? Is being ‘saved’ and experiencing the Kingdom of God the same thing?
I live in the world of disaster recovery. The very existence of this work is dependent on the goodwill and engagement of countless others. Essentially my job is to help people help people, and I do not see how this could be possible without the generosity, energy and presence of others from all over the country. So many others have taught me what it means to follow Jesus, money included. Many people have asked me why I continue to live off of stipends and per diems instead of accepting reality and getting a ‘real’ job. My inability to reconcile wealth and kingdom is definitely part of that answer.