- David Schrader, PhD., National Pastor
Are You Rich Towards God?
At this very moment, the richest person in the world is Elon Musk. Musk’s fame and fortune came from the production of his Tesla electric cars. Just recently, Musk added to that fame and fortune by making a bid to purchase Twitter for 44 billion. That move garnered him a lot of attention as potentially one of the world’s most powerful media moguls. And, if that venture wasn’t enough to satisfy his thirst for significance, Elon Musk, as the CEO of Space X, is aiming to build 100 starships per year and send one million people to Mars by 2050.
One notable thing about Elon Musk is that he has never been reluctant to speak his mind, regardless of who agrees or disagrees with him. Recently, Musk took to Twitter and alluded to his possible death, leading to a follow up tweet about where he stands about his own position on the afterlife. Musk tweeted, “If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowin ya.” Musk appears to be referring to Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin threatening him for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-internet system, which has been supplying internet to Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion.
Musk’s tweet garnered over one hundred and forty-six thousand comments, one of which read, “You won’t die before your day, Elon. Anyhow, you are/were a unique figure in this world. I’m only wondering one thing: As a genius, haven’t you [found] out that there is a great creator of this world yet? If you did, make sure you confess this before your last heartbeat,” the response continued. “Bless u.” Musk replied, “Thank you for the blessing, but I’m ok with going to hell, if that is indeed my destination, since the vast majority of all humans ever born will be there.”
Musk’s cavalier statement about being okay with going to hell is one I’ve heard many times. To his credit, Musk is certainly correct about the number of people who will make up hell’s population – it will be a vast majority. But he is incorrect to assume that hell should be his destination – as if he has no other alternative.
Jesus addressed this offhand thinking in Matthew 7:13-14. Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
Jesus was in effect saying, “Hell is a destiny that’s chosen by many.” It is a broad and popular path that many seem eager to take. This path isn’t God’s plan for anyone, including Elon Musk. In 2 Peter 3:9, the Apostle Peter makes this abundantly clear, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Jesus is patiently waiting for people to respond to his invitation for eternal life. He doesn’t want anyone to perish in hell. So, with such a great invitation, why are so many wanting to opt for the broad road that leads to hell? Perhaps it is because the broad road is a path of least resistance. It requires no acknowledgement of one’s sins, no repentance, no denial of oneself, and no cross carrying – all requirements of being a follower of Jesus.
In an interview with the Babylon Bee, Ethan Nicolle asked if Musk could do him “a quick solid” and accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Musk’s reply was one of ambivalence. “As Einstein would say, “I believe in the God of Spinoza,” Musk said, citing a concept held by some scientists that the natural laws of the universe constitute a sort of deity. “But, hey, if Jesus is saving people, I mean I wouldn’t stand in his way. You know, like, sure. I’ll be saved. Why not?”
Again, while Musk lightheartedly refers to Jesus saving people, himself included, he misses the critical need to acknowledge Jesus as his own personal Saviour. To Elon and everyone else in our world, Jesus is certainly into saving you, but your ambivalence will never bring you salvation. It is a decision you must make. Jesus will not save you from your sins just because you think he should or because you think he is into doing that sort of thing. Jesus saves people who choose to repent of their sins and who choose to believe in him and follow him.
Jesus had many encounters with people who had a sincere interest in eternal life. Interestingly, some of those people were rich and influential. Jesus knew that many things, including riches, could be a stumbling block to one’s salvation and to making Jesus the Lord of their lives.
For instance, in Mark 10:17-25 we read:
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
What intrigues me about this encounter is the rich man’s good moral life – something Jesus never challenges. But what surprises me even more is that the rich man’s good moral life wasn’t enough for his salvation and eternal life. If it had been, Jesus would have told him he was doing just fine.
Jesus saw that there was one thing that was keeping him from eternal life – his wealth. Now, riches and wealth are certainly not everyone’s vice, but in this man’s situation, it was his greatest hurdle to following Jesus. After Jesus told him to sell everything, give it to the poor, and to come and follow him, the Bible says, “He became very sad, for he had great possessions.”
There is one important thing though we must not overlook in this exchange between Jesus and the rich man. The Bible says in verse 21 that “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.” Whether it’s this rich man, or Elon Musk, or anyone else – Jesus genuinely loves everyone, and he wants them to be in heaven with him.
Jesus never turned rich people away because they were rich. They mattered to him every bit as much as anyone else. In fact, Jesus never turned anyone away, no matter what their sins were. Instead, people turned away from Jesus. No wonder Jesus was sad. It grieved him that the rich man loved his wealth, or in the case of others, they may enjoy the pleasures of their sin more than wanting to follow him and enjoy eternal life.
Many years ago, the world had a very rich man, much like Elon Musk, his name was Solomon. At one time, he was the richest man in the entire world. He lacked nothing and had everything he desired. After listing all the things, he accomplished in Ecclesiastes 2:1-8, Solomon says in verses 9-11, “So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything, I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”
Solomon learned that he could not fill his soul’s God-shaped vacuum with earthly things. So, after much reflection, Solomon later comes to say in Ecc. 12:13–14, “Here now is my conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”
Solomon rightly concluded that there was only one thing that could bring meaning into his life – acknowledging God and obeying his commands.
Like Solomon, Jesus wanted us to acknowledge God and to have a relationship with him. So, he told a story in Luke 12:15-21 about what happens when we are not rich in our devotion and love for God:
Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
In this parable, Jesus was not against the man building bigger barns for his bumper crops, he was pointing out that the man had never considered God in his life. That’s why Jesus said, “a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
Many in our world are unfortunately playing the part of a fool. They live their lives for themselves and show no regard for God. Jesus spoke to this type of foolish pursuit in Mark 8:36-37, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”
To Elon and everyone else, God is in to saving you. He has a genuine love for you whether you are wealthy or not. But you must abandon your ambivalence towards him. God’s plan of salvation will require that you to take him and his Son seriously.
Jesus was also known for speaking his mind on important matters even if people disagreed with him. Jesus said in Jn 14:7, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” Jesus makes it clear that heaven and eternal life are on his terms. You cannot get to heaven except by acknowledging him as your Lord and Saviour.
At one time God might have overlooked people’s pluralistic thinking and flippant attitudes. But the Apostle Paul says those days are over. In Acts 17:30-3, Paul says, “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”
Whatever you are spending your time and life on – stop and pause for a moment – consider being rich towards God – your eternal salvation depends on it.
 Benzinga, “Musk Plans to Build 1000+ Starships to Transport 1 Million People to Mars: A Fleet of ‘Modern Noah’s Arks’”, The Epoch Times, https://www.theepochtimes.com/musk-plans-to-build-1000-starships-to-transport-1-million-people-to-mars-a-fleet-of-modern-noahs-arks_4513578.html?utm_source=MB_article_paid&utm_campaign=mb-2022-06-06-ca&utm_medium=email&utm_content=news3&est=kxEJjDhSdiOQnbgAgS%2BEQbih%2BRWAvu0d4BofMHDgcKRaeFhhgDIAfZW5%2B4n9RetdKA%3D%3D, June 6, 2022.  Dale Chamberlain, ‘I’m Ok With Going to Hell’: Elon Musk Tweets About Death”, May 11, 2022, https://churchleaders.com/news/424019-im-ok-with-going-to-hell-elon-musk-tweets-about-death-says-he-would-let-donald-trump-back-on-twitter.html/2.  Dale Chamberlain, ‘Sure. I’ll Be Saved. Why Not?’: Elon Musk Discusses His Work, Life, and Faith With the Babylon Bee, January 5, 2022, https://churchleaders.com/news/414113-sure-ill-be-saved-why-not-elon-musk-discusses-his-work-life-and-faith-with-the-babylon-bee.html.