(I began this BS Series over a year ago and dropped it. Today’s offering picks up the series again. For those interested in BS Lesson #1, find it here: https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/a-fat-beggars-bible-study-bs-lesson-i/?frame-nonce=1ec948100d)
Today’s text, brothers and sisters, comes from Mark 10:17-31. It may not be the most famous Bible passage, but it surely is one rich people hold dear and meditate on as they fall asleep each night! If you want your wealth validated by God, there is hardly a better passage of Scripture for you to study.
Yes, this is that story of a poor man, homeless in fact, that came running up to Jesus to ask him what he should do to have abundant life. Most translations depict him as “poor”, which is close enough, but the discrepancy is the part where he comes to Jesus and calls him “good”. This is a bit problematic in both the Greek and the textual variants. The really old manuscripts use a Greek term there that could be translated “501c3 charitable organization” instead of Jesus. This means that the homeless man comes to a non-church organization (some folks call it “para-church”, but even that admits that the organization is not actually Christ or his Body). But this should set the stage now for the action God obviously wants us to see.
This bum comes to the 501c3 and asks how to get abundant life, which we know Jesus brings because he tells us this in John 10:10. And the 501c3 rightly tells the guy to follow God’s law just like you find it in the Old Testament. But the homeless guy said, “Yeah… I know all that. I actually live by the Ten Commandments and as closely as I can to the Sermon on the Mount too, but it seems like something is missing”.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hear a homeless person say they sense something is “missing” from their life, the first thing that pops into my mind is … A HOME! Maybe that’s just me, but if you analyze the word “homeless” it pretty much means “without a home”, and you don’t actually need to know the Greek to get that.
But it is at this point the 501c3 exposes the man’s heart and helps him see the many things he is “lacking”. He lacks sobriety on the one hand, and if he will just get some job training, join AA and NA, take a course in resume-writing and interviewing (not to mention anger management and an art class), AND if he attends all these classes every day without missing more than three in a month or showing up late, THEN he could get a locker to keep his stuff in, get on the list for a shower, and use the phone!
The homeless man looked at his options and thought to himself, well, it’s not like they are offering a miracle here or nothing, but if I do ALL THESE THINGS, then maybe, JUST MAYBE, I can eventually translate a locker, a shower, and use of a phone into a job at McDonalds or Wal-mart. Then, IF I can make it through the probationary period without getting fired for showing up late (since I don’t have a car) or for slipping back into my addiction… Who knows? Maybe I will finally save enough money to put down for first and last month rent on a lease for an apartment! Yes! This would be the abundant life Jesus talked about!
And just as he was mulling over the offer of the 501c3 to join their program, some fellow homeless people came in the shelter reading a story in the morning paper about a rich man who sold everything he had, gave his wealth to the poor in the form of $100 bills all around the downtown library, all in an effort to honor Jesus. When the director of the 501c3 heard of it, he turned to the crowd and said, “Children, How hard it is to enter into the American Dream! No one can enter it without lots of hard work. When a rich person gives away their wealth to the poor, they actually hurt the poor and harm this process – even derailing it! How much better it is to sell all you have and give it to the 501c3 and then truly help folks obtain the abundant life!”
And the homeless people gathered around the shelter that day said, “Behold! We gave up on all hope for a miracle or for someone to actually LOVE us to follow your programs. But if there is a guy handing out $100 bills at the library… I just remembered I have an overdue book I need to return there. Sorry if I miss the NA class. Please count it as one of my 3 excused absences…”
And life at the shelter went on as usual.