A Camel, and the Eye of a Needle
By Douglas V. Gibbs
My wife and I were speaking with a woman at the store about dogs, and other subjects of life, and eventually the topic of church came up. The woman said, "Oh, I believe in God, but I don't go to church because I don't want anybody telling me how to live my life."
Of all my years attending church, I don't think I have ever come across a sermon where the pastor told me how to live my life. Very many times during those gatherings the pastor relayed the message of God's expectations from the Bible, not on how to live my life, but on how He wants to have a relationship with me and then it is up to me on how I wish to live my life, with the opportunity to live it in a manner pleasing to Him. In other words, how I live my life is my choice, but if I desire to have a relationship with God, my choices should be in line with His.
It is an interesting thing about being a Christian. I don't consciously try to do the right thing. Whatever my relationship with God is, when I place Him as a priority in my life, I naturally act in accordance. But when I place other things as being more important than Him, then my life and actions act in accordance to those things I placed ahead of Him. Our behaviors are directly related to our "gods." God wants to be our only god, so there are not to be any gods before Him.
If we put another god before God, such as the love of money, then our decisions become less Godly, and begin to become what's best for our love of money. This is not to say that we should not achieve, or that the possession of wealth is bad. But it can't be something that is placed above God. Whatever the worldly god, be it a sexual lifestyle, or money, or status, or the job, it can't become more important than God Himself. If they do, if your primary focus on life is not God, but instead an idol you worship aside from God, then your relationship with the Lord will suffer, and God would not be pleased.
So, to get back to the lady in the store, her reaction that she didn't want somebody telling her how to live her life means that she has things in her life that she places above God, and she doesn't want anybody calling her on it. Now, the preacher is not going to call her on it, but when the pastor relays the biblical passage to her, that is how she is going to take it. She will try to psychologically defend her iniquity.
I don't think it is too much for God to ask to be the number one thing in your life - for Him to not be brushed aside for other things that you worship. The love for those other things can become such that you try to justify them as worthy, as if it is okay for you to worship those things. That is why in Matthew 19:24 it says: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
That verse is not a judgement against the wealthy, but a recognition of the reality that when one is wealthy, one may more easily be drawn into the worship of one's wealth. When one is rich, a whole new crop of variables pop up. Obstacles that are determined to stand between us and God appear. With our human nature, it becomes very difficult to keep God at a place of higher importance when the temptations that come with money are present. It is a difficult road, though not an impossible one.
When I go to church I don't hear the pastor telling me how to live my life. I hear the Lord asking for a relationship with me, and for me to place Him above all other things in my life. . . including wealth.
When my children were young, and they were disobedient, it made the relationship I had with them very difficult. I asked them to follow my rules not because I wanted to control them, or restrict their liberty, but because I saw the big picture that they didn't see, and I was simply trying to protect them. I expected them to follow my rules because I wanted them to live happy and healthy lives - such as with the moralities that God would like us to follow.
Think of it this way; if God didn't love us, He wouldn't care what we did, and He would not yearn for a relationship with us. He would be nothing more than, as the secularists like to say, an invisible man up in the sky.