But With God …

But with God all things are possible.  Really?

CamelFrom an earlier post, you know a pet-peeve of mine: the misuse of quantifying pronouns.  You remember, when a waitress comes to your table and asks, “How is everything?”  Everything?  Really?  Don’t get me started.

I have a confession: I’m bothered by the misuse of personal pronouns, too.  For example, the nurse comes into the examination room and asks, “How are WE doing today?”  Is she serious?  We?  “Well, gee, lady… best I know the doctor isn’t going to walk in here and bend YOU over the table for a prostate exam!  But (no pun intended) I’d say this part of WE has reason to be a little uncomfortable, eh?”

Here’s an observation for you: As often as we misuse or exaggerate pronouns in our everyday usage, God never does.  When He says ‘all’, He means it.  Check out this passage:

Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to 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 man to enter the kingdom of God.”  When his disciples heard this they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Give Matthew 19:16-26 a read.  Consider the scene.  A rich man had approached Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus could have given the answer we were all taught to use in evangelism class: “Why, say the sinner’s prayer and invite Jesus into your heart!”  But Jesus was a better evangelist than that.  He heard the man’s initial question and answered it.  Look again.  He asked “What must I do?” and Jesus answered, ‘You must be perfect! So, go and perfectly keep the law.’  The man then confidently asserted, “All these (commandments) I’ve kept.  What else do I lack?”

Pay close attention to Jesus words.  They begin, “If you want to be perfect…”  Jesus told the rich young man to go and sell everything, give the money to the poor and then to come and follow him.  In other words, ‘Surrender all and follow me.’  The young man left discouraged.  It’s at this point that Jesus spoke the passage above, beginning, “I tell you the truth…”

It is so unnatural and so abnormal for a human being to lay down everything–especially for a rich man–that a camel could sooner pass through the eye of a needle.  Aha!  There it is!  Jesus exaggerating!  Waitresses, nurses… and Messiahs!

Did he really exaggerate?  Jesus used a simile to depict an impossibility.  You couldn’t get a camel through the eye of a needle.  You couldn’t get a llama through.  You couldn’t get an alpaca… well, you get the point.  It’s impossible.  And it’s also impossible for man to save himself.

Then a really big but: But with God!  All things–even the most unnatural and abnormal–God can change the human heart.  God can rearrange the affections of a man’s heart.  God can re-order a man’s priorities.  God could do that just as easily as he could push a camel through the eye of a needle!  What?  You don’t think he can?  Do you have a camel?  I mean, it might get messy, but…

(Please note: No camels were hurt during the composition of this illustration.)