Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Mammon or Eternal life?

Mammon or Eternal life?

Written by  Laajan Miranda
Mammon  or  Eternal life?
Ezekiel 47: 3,4 speaks about  the different levels  in the relationship that a human being can have  with God. “3.Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep.4. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins”. The love of mammon is the most dangerous sin that any human being in either of these three levels can fall into and this is what the Bible testifies in 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs”. Let us journey through these three levels and meet some characters.

Ankle-deep is the first level where you identify your bondages and sinful tendencies. At this level, you get the grace to overcome every sin that holds you captive (if your repentance is sincere and your determination strong). This is what happens when you decide to attend a retreat and come for the same (make it). This level is more of a call to repentance and the acceptance of Christ as the Lord and Saviour.  God has different plans for the salvation of different souls.  All his plans depend on what he has blessed a particular soul with. Sometimes God presents a soul the opportunity for salvation by just requiring it to repent and acknowledge Christ.   In Luke 23:39-43 we come across two distinct people with contrasting attitudes. Both of them attended a three hour retreat, where no less a person than Jesus Christ taught them.  “39. One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40. But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  41. And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Here, God had a plan of salvation for both the thieves. He was willing to grant salvation to both of them. The only condition involved in the salvation here was that both of them had to repent sincerely for their deeds and acknowledge Christ. At the end of the three hour retreat, we see that the thief who missed it was eager to get out of the place by influencing Christ into performing a miracle for him and then get on with his old life. His love of wealth and easy living got the better of him. In the end the thief who made it renounced his sinful life, repented sincerely and acknowledged Christ, fulfilling all the conditions set for his salvation.

Knee-deep is the second level that comes when you have by the grace of God, overcome your sinful tendencies. The obstacles in the flow of grace and blessings are now out of sight . This is a time for consolidation. This is the time when you have to respond to your call. Your call may either be for service or for intercession or preaching or a combination of everything   depending on what God wants from you. A soul, once it reaches this level, is expected to either be of service to other souls or pray for the salvation of other souls (intercede) or spread the good news. Sometimes it might be a combination of all these. The call here will depend on what God has blessed a particular soul with for the fulfillment of his plan.  Zacchae’us, the chief tax collector was blessed with position by God so that he could use this position to serve other souls. Instead, Zacchae’us ended up misusing his position and accumulating wealth. Eventually, when he went for the retreat (encountered Christ) he realized his calling, repented sincerely and fulfilled his calling by using the same wealth that he had accumulated dishonestly for serving the poor and the needy.  The dangers of going on a vacation in spiritual life are highlighted in  Matthew 12:43-45 – 43. “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. 44 Then he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

Up to the loins this is arguably the highest level, and there are very few who get to this level and sustain it right through the end of their lives. Some examples of people who have got to this level and have been successful in maintaining it right through the end of their lives are the Blessed Mother Teresa, St. Alphonsa  and all the other saints. Though all the Apostles were called to  eternal life and destined to sit on thrones to judge the tribes of Israel, we know of one person who just could not make it.  Of all the people who came to Christ, there were none as fortunate to have attended retreats and experienced Christ for a period of three years at such close quarters as the twelve apostles. Despite being in the most coveted level in their relationship with Christ , we see two of them being tempted in the final hours of Christ’s earthly life. Both of them were given a choice and had to choose between Christ and their love for something else. In St. Peter’s case it was his fear and for Judas Iscariot it was money. Though both of them faltered, St. Peter was bold enough to go back to level 1(repent and acknowledge Christ) and then graduate to level 3 in the course of his life,  whereas Judas Iscariot  lost hope and ended his life. In the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asked Judas “Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?” , he was actually giving Judas the same opportunity that he gave St. Peter.  Judas just could not grab this opportunity and go back to level 1 as St. Peter did.

It is not for nothing that God inculcated in the people of Israel the habit of giving Tithe. The only way one can come out of this problem, which has destroyed many a soul is to start by giving Tithe and then slowly graduate to the level of practicing Charity alongside. In other words, Tithe and Charity are not for God’s personal use (because he is self sufficient). Instead they are tools given by God for breaking free from the hold of mammon and ensuring eternal life.

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