Lent 7 - The Way of the Cross
In our reading today, Jesus describes what it takes to follow him. In this passage, he presents one of the greatest challenges to people who claim to follow Jesus: "What good is it to gain the whole world, yet lose their soul?" (verse 36).
This is a catchy line that has made it into many songs in recent history (my favourite being Lose My Soul by Toby Mac), but we need to be careful that our familiarity with a verse does not make us forget its meaning.
While perhaps being at risk of generalising, I believe that there is a direct correlation between someone's wealth and how difficult it is to truly follow Jesus. The more wealth and possessions that someone has, the harder it is to be a true disciple of Christ.
The wealthiest nation in the world is the USA. The current population of Americans that does not identify with any religious affiliation is 28%. In South Africa, a much poorer nation, this figure is 5.2%.
I think that the reason for this is because the more that we have, the more we are able to provide for ourselves, and the less that we need to rely on God to sustain us.
No-one ever really considers themselves to be wealthy, but the following is the reality: If you earn more than R1 149 per month, you are in the top 50% of earners in South Africa. If you earn more than R7 313 per month, you are in the top 10% of the richest South Africans. If you earn more than R48 753 per month, you are in the top 1% of the wealthiest South Africans.
As well as highlighting the stark inequality gaps in South Africa, these stats should put our own personal wealth into perspective.
We should always remember, as much wealth that we have acquired in this life, it can all be taken away from us in an instant. The Coronavirus pandemic has made this realisation an unfortunate reality for many people.
When Jesus speaks about picking up our cross and denying ourselves, he is urging us to not rely on our own wealth to sustain us. We should not let our wealth get in the way of our relationship with him. Even if we are able to provide for our own needs, we should always primarily rely on Christ for our ultimate wellbeing.
Prayer: Lord God, everything that I have is Yours. I am sorry for those times when I have relied on my own strength, while neglecting my relationship with You. I am sorry for building my own personal wealth, while neglecting to provide for the needs of the poor and the vulnerable around me. Please help me to understand what it means to lose my life for the sake of the gospel. I do not want to be at risk of gaining the whole world, but losing my soul. Amen.
Image Source: CNN