In the Gospel of Mark, one of the earliest books written about the life of Jesus, Jesus makes a bold statement:
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”Mark 10:23
This statement shocked Jesus’ followers, who lived in a culture where wealth meant status and respect–and most certainly an honored place in an earthly kingdom!
Yet Jesus emphasized his statement further by saying,
“Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”Mark 10:25
Though we live thousands of years later than Jesus did, our world really isn’t that different. Our culture still tells us that our wealth, whether it’s material possessions, a beautiful family, or a “wealth” of good deeds, will give our lives ultimate meaning. Yet Jesus says that because of all this wealth, we’re going to have a harder time entering his kingdom and finding true purpose. Why would he make such a claim?
Thanksgiving is a time where we stop and consider the wealth we have and all the blessings in our lives. This a good thing to do and Jesus welcomes our gratitude for what we’ve been given. In fact, Scripture says that God loves to lavish good things on his children. So then how can these same good things keep up from knowing him?
When we’re surrounded by blessings, it’s easy to overlook a massive hole in our lives. Though our Thanksgiving day may be full of family, friends, and food, without the Good News of Jesus, we’ll be left feeling empty. This is how wealth can keep us from God: not because wealth is inherently evil, but because it can distract us from our real need… a right relationship with God and the world around us. This need can only be met through Jesus.
Jesus is the king that God promised to send, a King that would set our world right and bring peace and freedom to our souls. Jesus invites us into his kingdom, not because of our “wealth”, but because of his grace.
This is good news on a whole different level! This is more than finding out you get a day off of work to eat great food and watch football. This is a like a newscaster on worldwide TV declaring, “War is over! Peace has come!” Jesus invites us to turn away from our worldly wealth and freely receive this good news.
Living with Jesus as King isn’t easy. His followers will be rejected, just as he was. But they also live a life of deep security, satisfaction, and joy. Thy know God and his forgiveness. They are helped by his Spirit, and look forward to the King’s return, when he will finally establish his loving kingdom forever.
This truth leads us to a deeper sense of thankfulness. Now, our thankfulness is not just the celebration of the things we own in this world; it is the confirmation of God’s grace in our lives. This makes Thanksgiving more than a recognition of what we own, but a joyful celebration of what we’ve been given: new life in Jesus Christ.
If you have never experienced this new life, then we invite you to ask yourself, “What is Christianity?”. This question could lead you on an unforgettable journey.
May this Thanksgiving Day be a celebration of the best news ever: how the Gospel of God’s grace through Jesus has changed your life!