I heard that song dozens of times in the car in my youth, being the son and grandson of ABBA lovers. Of course, as a child, I had no concept of what it meant. The song tells the story of a woman who dreams of marrying a rich man so that she can, in her words, “fool around and have a ball”. Eventually, she gives up on this dream and instead resolves to make her fortune through the casinos of Las Vegas. Given what we all know about gambling, it’s not difficult to imagine how badly the story might end…!
Even though it might be easy to judge its (literally) poor protagonist, the song tells us a profound truth about our society. Money has an impact on our choice of career, our leisure, and even necessities like food and clothing. The economy is constantly a hot topic in our news and politics, and often the cause of division between the “haves” and “have nots”. Any of us who are feeling the pinch of today’s cost of living crisis will agree that ABBA got it right: it is indeed a rich man’s world.
Luke 18 paints a picture of a young man who seems to have it made. Great wealth, a strong moral code, and the right priorities: inheriting eternal life. But he still lacks something! Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give to the poor, and he is saddened and discouraged.
This throws down the challenge to us also. Riches are a good gift from the Father, but do we value and prioritise the gift above the One who gives it? Would we give up the se- curity and comfort that our own wealth gives us to follow Jesus? To which world do we truly belong: the rich man’s world or the kingdom of God?
These are difficult questions to ponder, but, as we see in Luke 18, Jesus doesn’t shy away from asking difficult things of us – and he promises that, whatever we give, we will receive far more abundantly in His kingdom!