I’m going to be preaching later this fall, and the gospel text for that Sunday includes Mark 10:17-23. In an initial reading of the passage, I couldn’t help but wonder if today we need to be reading the passage something like this:
As Jesus started on his way, a pastor ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must our church do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these we have kept since we were young.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing your church lacks,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because his church had large buildings, many full-time staff, and valuable land.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Is this one of the things this text is saying to us today?
In the ELCA, congregations take in almost $2 billion in giving annually and have around $20 billion in assets, presumably mostly in real estate. Should some of our congregations start selling off their assets?