I know this is late but I wanted to briefly share a few thoughts on 60 Minutes‘ exclusive interview this past Sunday with billionaire philanthropist, media mogul, and former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg. The interview comprised of exquisite estates, lavish expenditure, and top-tier access to foreign dignitaries. As a man from humble beginnings (I’m being facetious), the former stock broker visionary turned his dreams into reality, surging ahead of his opponents by recognizing the dire need for computers and advanced technology on Wall Street. This genius strategy places his companies in the nearly perfect locus for information dissemination. Though with all this fortune at his fingertips, he understands he cannot take it with him.
In a sit down with Steve Kroft, he explains his ambitions for a more peaceful world. His fortune can almost buy anything. Dear friends of his such as the Koch Brothers and George Soros partner with Bloomberg to pave ways for innovation and new avenues for medical advancements. Mr. Bloomberg, at one point, reminisces on all the good he has done saying,
“I like what I see when I look in the mirror…We’ve spent one billion trying to convince people to not smoke. It’s been phenomenally successful. We’ve probably saved millions of lives. There aren’t many people that have done that. So, you know, when I get to heaven, I’m not sure I’m gonna stand for an interview. I’m going right in.”
The two chuckle and the interview ends. How sad.
Even as the 8th richest man in the world, with all the wealth he could possibly desire, he still doesn’t understand the concept of life and death. Why should he? He’s led a good life. He’s presided over the reconstruction of NYC after 9/11. He’s banned large soda drinks. (Yes, that actually happened). And he’s aided in the effort with his large corporate buddies to fight cancer and other terminal illnesses. Yet, all his fortune will be squandered—moreover, meaningless—apart from the saving work of Christ.
When I was in 7th grade, my former church took a trip to Israel. My family decided to join the wide-eyed Americans gawking at the so-called “Holy Land.” I enjoyed the trip. But one of the most interesting attractions was the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine. The cathedral was huge. As a relic and memorial for not only the birth of Christ but also the Three Magi, the experience was unparalleled. However, though the architecture was ornate, the entrance to “the birthplace of Christ” was the most intriguing. The entrance was small and steep. An uncomfortably crouched doorway following the narrow steps. One had to literally bow upon entrance. That is when the tour guide said the entrance is known as “the eye of a needle.” He then alluded to Mark 10:25, which says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” For years I had been taught by well-meaning pastors that this “needle” Jesus referred to was a sewing needle. However, Jesus’s claim is more profound.
1 Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” It easier for a dumb animal to bow before his Maker than for a charitable billionaire to understand the concept of grace, sin, and humility. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Tim Keller explains the concept of grace as a more powerful alternative to works-salvation. If we work up to God, he is, in some shape form, indebted to us, for he is not sufficient to fully reach the heart of man. We must have, in some way, reached him first. However, the opposite is true. Since we are unable to attain holiness due to the vast chasm separating God and depraved humanity, we are forever building futile bridges that only result in death. But through grace one is fully and joyfully able to enjoy Christ simply because “he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). Therefore, we may partake in his goodness. The Apostle Paul writes,
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Rom. 4:2-5).
So, no man regardless of wealth or social status is exempt from the judgment. Because he is fair and impartial, we are equal in the eyes of God. However, we must bow the knee and enter through the needle, humbling ourselves before the throne of Christ, rejoicing in his goodness. Then, we will be truly rich.