The Problem of Being Rich

I’ve begun to understand in a new way, why Jesus said that it would be more difficult for a *“Rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” Unless a person has lived a life of poverty, one cannot comprehend the importance of supports in place that allow a person to better their situation. To understand one either has to live the experience or take time to know some people who are . . .  To walk beside a person scrambling to just survive. Otherwise, it is very easy to make assumptions about the poor. Too often I hear people blaming the poor for being poor, not understanding the conditions which got a person into the situation, let alone how very difficult it is, to find ones way out. This administration has been filled with people who have lived in the upper side of life. Luxury is a norm. Most people in leadership have never had to decide whether or not they can afford care for a sick child. Paying for drugs for cancer treatment has not been an obstacle, nor has any other medical need been too expensive.

This week President Trump told an audience at a Values Summit that “We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.” My problem with that statement is that I’ve been seeing far more anti-Christian values coming out of Washington than Christian values in these last months. I can understand how good Christians can differ on issues around sexuality and abortion. But there are core values of Christianity which are not debatable. Basic is a love for the poor. A core value is caring for people when their circumstances are difficult. When people are down and out, a Christian reaches out to give support and encouragement. A Christian does not to pull the rug out from under people who most need help. They don’t mock an entire country that has been wiped out by a hurricane nor do they take health care away from the poor. A Christian practices generosity. They do not give tax breaks to the rich at the expense of the poor. Christian values include a concern for all of creation. **We remember how Jesus said that whatever we do to the least of his brothers and sisters, it is as if, we have done it to him.

I can understand differences of opinion. I can not understand the callousness of taking away from people who struggle the most, the supports they need to survive on. President Trumps decision to deny insurance subsidies to the working poor comes across as vindictiveness. It is certainly not leadership. Fixing something that is broken is far different than tearing it apart and destroying what is working.

So, I pray for this president. I pray for the nation, that we live the true Christian values of love, goodness, mercy, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, peace, patience and self-control. For there is as scripture says, “No law against such things.” Galatians 5:22-23

*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.” Matthew 19:24

** Full passage – Matthew 25:31-46 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’  Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”


About Shirley Hobson Duncanson

Rev. Shirley Duncanson is a United Methodist Pastor. She is a graduate of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Metro State University in Minnesota and Cleveland High School, in Cleveland MN where she grew up on a small fishing resort. Retired in 2013, she has served churches in Owatonna, Fairfax, Morton, Winona, Homer, Mounds View and most recently Hillcrest United Methodist Church in Bloomington, all in Minnesota. Shirley currently is a volunteer pastor at a nearby church. She is the mother of seven and grandmother of seven. Shirley enjoys photography, theological discussions, political discourse, book studies and reading.
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