Mark 10: God’s Prosperity

There’s a really neat, beautiful line in Mark 10, after Jesus tells the rich man to give everything to the poor and the guy slinks away instead. Jesus laments how hard it is for the rich to be saved, which is 180 degrees from what everyone though then (well, and now, if you’re a fan of the prosperity gospel). So Peter says “What about us? I mean, we’ve given up everything for you.”

In 10:29 Jesus says “Yes, and I tell you that those who leave home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and for the gospel, will receive much more in this present age. They will receive a hundred times more houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields…”

OK, so maybe that sounds exactly like the prosperity gospel. But that’s not how I read it, and especially in the alienated age in which we live, I think there’s a much clearer way to read it. Our modern sensibility is to close ourselves off – behind gates and walls, in back yards instead of front porches, in front of screens instead of across actual tables. And we usually do it in the name of protecting ourselves and what’s ours – our homes, our families.

But to the extent that we are willing to drop the barriers and directly engage the other, which happens (or at least can happen) in deep and transformative ways in the community of fellow believers, we find that we are connected to a billion other people who, gradually, we can start to think of as brothers and sisters and mothers and children. And to the very limited extent that we engage in the original Christian virtue of hospitality, our homes and fields become theirs and vice versa.

And that’s how you get a hundred times more. Not by sending a check to the preacher on TV or the capital campaign.

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