Thursday, February 10, 2005

Why is it harder than a camel through the eye of a needle?

As an American, I have absorbed the idea that monetary riches is important and have often wondered why Jesus says "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." The standard response is that Jesus also said, "You cannot serve both God and Money." However, I've seen lots of rich Christians who are able to both handle money and praise God. Sure some people can't control their own money or they think that money is the end all, but many Christians are able to do both.

I think the latest budget offer from President Bush might shed some light on this. Riches get in the way of helping others. It isn't that "money is the root of all evil," as much as concern for our own wealth stops us from loving our neighbors. Let me give you a few examples.

  • The elimination of block grants that aid poor communities

  • Making it more difficult for working poor families with children to be on Medicaid by cutting state funding

  • A $355 million cut to programs that promote safe and drug-free schools

  • An 11% cut to housing and urban development programs

  • The elimination of 48 educational programs

  • The elimination of funding for vocational education

The tax cuts reduce the federal government income about 400 billion (or roughly the size of this year's projected deficit) annually.

Now I see the rub that Jesus warned us about. Rich people are generous on individual basis (Gates foundation, George Soros pro-democracy foundation, etc), but when an unknown is hurt, like the families losing out on MedicAid or students losing vocational funding, then people like their money. It is difficult to love both God and Money because loving God means loving our neighbors, even the ones we don't see, don't know, or even like. Therefore, Bush's tax cuts, which seem like a good idea are actually hurting America and Americans. I guess as a society, we can't really love both God and Money.