camel and needleReading: Matthew 19:23-30

Don’t worry, Jesus isn’t talking about you. This was only directed toward some specific people a long time ago. And it’s all metaphorical anyway, so don’t even think about taking this literally. Jesus doesn’t want you to change anything about your priorities or how your use your resources. You’re doing just fine. Amen.

That’s what we want to hear, right? When we encounter a difficult passage of scripture like this, we try our best to figure out a way to conclude that it doesn’t really say what it says or it is really isn’t about us. We try our best to strip Jesus of his provocative challenges. We like our comfortable way of being disciples and don’t want to think too hard about the kind of commitment Jesus asked of his followers.

But maybe we shouldn’t dismiss these passages so quickly. Maybe we should take a harder look at the kind of life Jesus lived and the way of life he encouraged among his disciples. Maybe we should think about what this kind of Christian life would look like in today’s world, different as it is from the world Jesus knew.

Instead of explaining this teaching away or ignoring it altogether, let’s challenge ourselves to really engage it. Instead of putting aside this passage until it appears again in a devotion or a sermon, months or even years from now, let’s live with it for a while. What if we read it three times a day–morning, noon, and night–for a whole week? What might we hear God saying?

Challenging God, don’t let me off the hook too easily today. Let these provocative words haunt me as I try my best to follow the way of Jesus. Amen.

This appears as today’s Fourth Church Daily Devotion.

John W. Vest

John is a "church hacker" attempting to overcome the limitations of church as we know it. To connect with him and learn more about his work, please visit

Reader Interactions


  1. The one and only time I was in a church during my high school years (to play a gig with their handbell choir–who knew there were arrangements for clarinet and handbells?), your first lines were the first lines of (and the gist of) the sermon. It was an affluent church. I never went back, and it was years before I went to a church again, let alone thought nice things about christians. I hope we stay on the hook instead.

Leave a Reply