Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” ~ Matthew 19:16
Pyramid Schemes are a “get-rich-quick” phenomenon that saw the height of its day in the 1970s. They come in many forms, but they “…all share one overriding characteristic. They promise consumers or investors large profits based primarily on recruiting others to join their program, not based on profits from any real investment or real sale of goods” (http://www.ftc.gov/speeches/other/dvimf16.shtm). Most of us have known someone or been the “someone” who was captivated by this phenomenon. It preys on our weaknesses, but it also feeds on our egos.
Let’s be honest now; wealth is attractive. It offers security, power, prestige, and self-satisfaction. We feel good when we have wealth. But even those at the top will tell you it does not completely satisfy.
The rich young man had plenty of wealth. We do know how much, but it must have been a lot. The word used in a later verse suggests he had an abundance of land. Land gave people status as well as wealth. We also do not know how he acquired his wealth. He is young. The word used identifies him as perhaps a young adult; the age of someone who would typically just be starting out in life. And yet he has already accumulated status, money and possessions. But something is missing, and he knows it.
What is missing? What is missing in your life? Why do you still not feel satisfied? Does this passage suggest we should not have money or possessions? Are we to be like the monks who take vows of poverty in order to be fulfilled and satisfied? Are we all supposed to follow Jesus into the most remote village of Africa and preach the Gospel? And what about following Jesus…if we follow Him and recruit others in order to gain treasure in the afterlife, does that make Christianity a pyramid scheme?
This is a crazy passage of scripture. We miss the point over and over again. We pray: “Jesus, will you just tell us already how we can enter eternal life? And please make it something that doesn’t involve sacrifice on our part…thanks!”…or something like that.
Come Sunday and hear the rest of what Jesus has to say to the rich young man…and to us.