Many read this text and simply can’t believe what it says on the face of it. It seems to imply that rich folks cannot be saved. It seems to say in no uncertain terms that if you are a rich man, then your chances to get to heaven are so little that a Camel has a better chance of getting through an eye of a needle.
So due to the difficulties, we Christians have taken a very clear text and made it unclear. One of the things we have done is made up a gate that was allegedly called the “eye of the needle.” This gate was small. A camel could get through it, but the camel had to get on its knees and then crawl through the little opening. So it ain’t impossible. It is possible, just very difficult. I have seen preachers get on the ground and wiggle around as if to illustrate this alleged activity. Note that this interpretation says that it ain’t impossible, just very difficult.
Well. the problem with this is that the hearers of the text didn’t think Jesus was saying it was hard, but impossible. The disciples looked astonished and wondered “who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25). Why would they be astonished if it was not impossible just very hard. Who then could be saved? Well the preachers who preached this tell us, all they have to do is get on their knees and crawl. But no that ain’t it. Jesus himself said with “humanity it is impossible but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). But our preachers tell us that it is possible, it ain’t impossible.
No An eye of the needle is the same eye of the needle you have seen right now. Jesus meant for it to be impossible. Jesus wanted us to realize that the kingdom of God is not the kingdoms of this world. Jesus wanted us to realize that riches in this world do not guarantee right standing with God. Jesus wanted us to realize that it is impossible for a rich man to be saved in God’s coming Kingdom.
But then Jesus tells us that even God can do the impossible. You see these made up rules limit God’s power and emphasize humanity’s power. If the side of the city gate story were true then there would be something that that human could do to enter the kingdom. But no, Jesus reminds us that the only way into the kingdom is for God to take us there. No you can’t remove all your burden. No you can’t get on your knees. and No you can’t crawl to get in the eye of the needle. You need God to do something that we can’t even conceive.
With humanity this is impossible, but with God, All Things Are Possible, Amen.
I attended a worship service where an associate minister was given an assignment. However, instead of attempting to support the worship service, the associate attempted to shine the light on himself while he “preached.”
I have seen it many times before. The associate might be called to read the morning scripture or perhaps to announce the hymn. Instead of following proper protocol, the associate might add some remarks about his week and how God got him through. Maybe the associate starts talking about how God spoke to him last night about overcoming. Then a 1 minute scripture reading becomes 4 or 5 minutes. Sometimes the story is relevant to the theme of the service, but most of the time it is not.
Often this problem is due to a lack of training. It is hard to blame associates when their only way of learning how to support a service comes from looking at other associates (and perhaps the senior pastor) drone on and on about irrelevant issues in services. This kind of problem can easily be resolved by providing training as some of the better senior pastors provide.
The associate must fully realize that the associate’s role is not to add another sermon to the service, but to support the service. The best associates realize that you should follow directions unless there is a really compelling reason to break protocol.
Associates support the service by knowing the theme of the service. What are the hymns and gospel songs that are sung? What are the scriptures that were chosen by the worship leaders? What is the sermon title? The answer to these questions will help to guide any observations or additions that the associate might feel led to tack on to the assignment.
But please remember, if you have not been assigned the morning sermon, do not take it upon yourself to add one. Associate ministers adding sermons to their part adds a lot of time to the service. If you have 3 or 4 associate “additions” you add 15 to 25 minutes to the service before the preacher even gets up. And if these associates additions are not relevant to the theme of the service, then it works against the worship planners hard work.
When it is your turn to give the Word, how would you feel if the 3 or 4 other associates had added 25 minutes of distracting additions to the service? Get up, do your assignment, and sit down!
Keep in mind that associates are used as they support the preacher and the service. Associates who sacrifice the service to gratify their own desire to preach out of season will ultimately limit their future possibilities as worship leaders and pastors begin to limit their use in the service. No, do what God has assigned you in this service and sit down. When God has chosen you to read the scripture. Read it with power and with meaning. If you have to make some comments, limit them and make them relevant to the theme of the service.
You will get your turn to preach, your turn will come, and when it does, you will hope that the other associates will not detract from the Word that God has given you to preach.