Are you ever tempted to take a shortcut?

Mark 10: 17-27


Taking the shortcutHow many of you don’t read instructions? For example you buy a flat pack piece of furniture, and you lay everything out and start putting it together.  You don’t refer to the instruction manual.. it’s easy you just screw everything today… don’t you? 

It’s never that easy, there are different screws for different bits.  I made that mistake putting together the oven housing, even though I read the instructions I didn’t read them properly and I ended up with the oven in the wrong place.  It had to be taken apart again.  It not only cost me time, but also money as the electrician had to come back. 

So, I should have spent more time reading the instructions.   It takes us more time and we end up frustrated.

I’ve done the same when I’ve been going somewhere, I think I know where I am going, I jump in the car only to find half way there I am lost, I have to stop and get the map book out, or stop and ask someone.  So, my journey takes twice as long, than it would have done if I had been prepared to spend a few minutes looking at a map or getting directions.

Throughout our lives we are tempted by shortcuts, there are ads on TV. proclaiming this gadget or that can save time, energy and money.. and today it’s a bargain.. this is something you really need… But is it really a shortcut?

In today’s passage the rich man was trying to find a shortcut.  He was already very wealthy, and he thought he knew all the answers.  But there was something else he wanted.

He wanted to get into the kingdom of heaven, he wanted eternal life. 

But Jesus told the man something he didn’t want to hear.  There were no short cuts to the kingdom of heaven.  The man couldn’t buy his way into the kingdom.   But it was going to cost more than he bargained for.  It was going to cost his time, preparation, learning and commitment. 

There is a narrow entrance at the side of the temple called the ‘needle’.  It’s wide enough for a camel to pass through, but only if all the burden is removed from the camel’s back.  The burden is the bags that the camel caries down either side.  If you wanted to get through this entrance, you had to get off the camel, and take everything off the camel.  It takes time to unload the camel, to take it through and then reload it again.  There is no shortcut to get through. 

The man had told Jesus that he had known the commandments since he was a boy.  So, Jesus told him, well then you know what to do.   Sell everything, and give to the poor then you will have treasure in heaven. 

The man left sad, because he just couldn’t do it.

Just as we all know what we need to do…  But we don’t like being told to ‘read the instructions first’.  The man hoped that there would be an alternative, a short cut.  But of course there isn’t.

Something that is important to note is that Jesus didn’t try to convince him, he didn’t try to persuade him, he told him what he needed to do and then let him walk away.  The decision was the man’s, it had to be taken freely.

Where do your priorities lie? With gathering riches? Time is one of your greatest riches.  How do you spend your time?  Look at the last week, what did you spend your time doing?  The answer will give you a good idea where your priorities lay. 

Today’s passage from Mark is direct and to the point

Do you want eternal life?

Are you willing to change your priorities or will you walk away?  

If we think of our lives like a camel then we all have riches or bags that we carry.  It’s a question of recognising what form they take.

And recognising that there are no easy answers or short cuts that we can take to getting through the needle.   

The decision as ever is ours…. J

There is a fun way of illustrating this point.  Ask your group for a volunteer, the can be a camel, then choose someone else to be the rich man. 

Put four chairs together as an alleyway.  Then get the child that is the camel to carry lots of bags, the alley has to be quite narrow making it impossible for the child to get through. 

This is a brilliant website for using the inside of toilet rolls for all sorts of animals but is especially relevant for today, as they have a camel..

All you need is a needle to show how it won’t fit through.. lol


J
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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