One of the more famous stories of the Bible is that of the rich young man in Matthew 19. A very wealthy guy comes up to Jesus and says, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” At first blush this seems like a valid question, and he apparently knows enough to ask the right person about it. Jesus obviously knows what this guy is angling for but because he is nicer than me, Jesus engages with him and asks about his knowledge of the laws of Moses. The guy says he knows those and keeps those but still feels he’s missing something and asks what he is still lacking. Jesus tells him to sell all his stuff, give the money to the poor, and become his disciple. And the rich guy goes away sad because he was super-duper rich.
After this interaction Jesus tells his disciples, “Truly I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” It’s easy to look at this and become self-inflated because you KNOW Jesus is talking about people that are richer than you. Those sinners. But, as with most sinners in the Bible, this rich guy was a stand-in for us. His problem was that he was reliant on his own resources to meet all his needs on Earth and for eternity.
Before you can have faith, you must recognize that you have needs that you cannot solve yourself. This rich young man probably bought his way out of any number of jams. I think most of us wish we had the throw-it-at-your-problems-until-they-go-away money, but even if we did we couldn’t buy our way into heaven.
The rich young man wanted a quick fix. He wanted the “One Weird Trick” that clickbait articles promise. But the reality is Jesus is the only path to eternal life. We are saved by faith through his death, burial, and resurrection. In putting our trust in Jesus, we hand over control. We don’t like being out of control. The rich young man didn’t need to have faith in his money because he knew it was there. He had seen over and over its power to pull him out of problems. Trusting is hard, but as Christians we are called to take a long view to see how all things work together for our good.